SpaceDev has created a propulsion program that includes the SpaceDev Streaker — a low-cost small launch vehicle — an orbital transfer space tug — and other propulsion products based in part on SpaceDev’s development of a hybrid rocket motor related to the SpaceShipOne vehicle announced by Scaled Composites on April 18, 2003.
“SpaceDev is proud to be on the leading-edge of safe, affordable human space flight with its patented, safe hybrid rocket propulsion systems,” said Jim Benson, founding chairman and chief executive of SpaceDev. Over the last three years SpaceDev has worked to design a practical, expendable small launch vehicle named SpaceDev Streaker. SpaceDev Streaker will be capable of putting 1,000 pound payloads — CAVs and one or more microsatellites — into low earth orbit at a price expected to be less than existing or planned small launch vehicles.
The SpaceDev Streaker will use patented High Performance Mass Fraction hybrid common core boosters that will equal the performance of solid rocket motors and some liquid rocket motors while remaining safe, responsive and affordable. The rocket motors burn HTPB (tire rubber) and Laughing Gas (nitrous oxide), and will be augmented by existing technologies to produce performance significantly above traditional hybrid motors. Those boosters will form the base of a family of SpaceDev propulsion products, including sounding rockets, strap-on boosters, targets, payload accelerators, and for other commercial and military applications.
As part of this SpaceDev propulsion program, SpaceDev is designing and building a previously announced highly innovative and unique Shuttle- and EELV secondary compatible orbital transfer “space tug” under a contract with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). The SpaceDev MTV (orbital Maneuvering and orbital Transfer Vehicle) and the space tug both use hybrid rocket motors fueled by Plexiglas (PMMA) and Laughing Gas (nitrous oxide). A SpaceDev MTV can accelerate from zero to over 3,000 MPH in under four minutes. The SpaceDev space tug for AFRL will be capable of raising or lowering a small payload by hundreds of miles, while SpaceDev MTVs will be capable of raising and lowering payloads by thousands of miles. SpaceDev’s high performance hybrid rocket propulsion, and its orbital maneuvering and orbital transfer technology, is of growing importance for space situational awareness, satellite inspection, counter measures, satellite rescue, refueling, small launch vehicle boosters and upper stages, and other applications, both commercial and military.