Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) - 2,000 lbs To LEO Under $5 million


   All Weather Capability To Launch On A Moment's Notice In The Middle Of The Worst Storms!

Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion Company (WSPC) is designing a responsive and low cost SLV that uses a unique solid rocket motor that gives the SLV versatile performance and low cost. The SLV's propellant is WSPC's high performance, environmentally friendly, low cost, phase stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) space booster propellant. Its unique SLV solid rocket motors provide real time controllable thrust with a unique expansion-deflection (E-D) exit cone. The E-D exit cone concept has been verified by CFD analysis and solid rocket motor static firings. The E-D exit cone also provides optimum expansion of the exhaust gases at all altitudes. These features give WSPC's SLV the highest level of mission versatility to deploy unmanned hypersonic vehicles or satellites.

WSPC has been supported in this work with U.S. Air Force funding. Click here for a related article from a AFRL Kirtland AFB newsletter, WSPC was awarded another contract in November 2006 by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards AFB to continue development of the SLV.

During Phase II of the SLV's development, WSPC has been testing critical SLV components with bench testing and static motor firings. Static firings have demonstrated complete real time throttling capability. WSPC's unique thrust vector control system does not vector the nozzle or exit cone, both are fixed during motor operation. Static firings have demonstrated thrust vector angles beyond what flexseals and liquid injection TVC systems can achieve. (Subscale thrust management test upper right)

WSPC will test a half scale version of the SLV´s third stage to verify complete thrust management and thrust vector control in mid-June, 2012. In Phase III, WSPC will launch a full scale version of the SLV's third stage on a suborbital flight. This flight will verify the guidance and control systems. During that time period, WSPC will also static fire full scale versions of the first and second stages. In Phase IV, WSPC will launch the SLV with all three stages to put a satellite into orbit.

Low Cost & Technical Innovation

Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion Company (WSPC) is a pioneer in the area of low cost launch vehicles. The key to launch cost was identified as lowering the cost in three critical areas, (1) propulsion, (2) guidance and control and (3) launch site operations. In order to be successful in reducing launch costs, all three of these areas must experience cost reduction from present levels.

The initial focus of WSPC's work was to develop low cost propulsion systems. This effort was started under Air Force contract to develop a PSAN solid propellant oxidizer and a propellant formula that could successfully make full use of it. A co-founder of the company, Dr. Adolf Oberth, was successful in both of these regards. When Dr. Oberth retired, Mr. Wickman continued his research by refining the propellant formula until it was possible to mix and cast the propellant without vacuum or curing ovens, yet obtain a propellant quality equal to vacuum casting. The propellant consists of WSPC's PSAN-I ammonium nitrate, magnesium powder, HTPB binder and a plasticizer. The plasticizer thins out the propellant for easy mixing in a non-propellant commercial mixer. The resultant propellant is ready to pour for casting the solid rocket motor.

WSPC Small Launch Vehicle Features

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