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
- - Always ready to go on a moments notice
- - No fuel or oxidizer support vehicles and/or tanks
- - No dangerous venting of fuel or oxidizer vapors
- - No pressurized helium, LOX or fuel tanks to endanger ground crews
- - Low levels of manpower to launch SLV
- - All weather capability - Solids demonstrated in all weather conditions around the world
- - No vacuum mixing or casting eliminates need for expensive mixers and casting fixtures
- - No oven cure eliminates need for expensive curing ovens
- - Non-toxic, non-detonable propellant ingredients means less expensive production equipment
- - Minimal environment impact - No hydrochloric acid in the exhaust
- - Non-corrosive exhaust extends life of launch support equipment
- - Safe, non-detonable solid propellant - Can be hit repeatedly with a hammer without ignition or explosion.
- - Excess propellant can be reduced to a non-toxic oxide with water
- - Eliminates environmental processing costs associated with AP propellant
- - Propellant is non-toxic to the touch with no hazardous vapors
- - Optimum thrust at all altitudes of operation
- - Real time thrust level control
- - Provide thrust vector angles potentially up to 22 degrees with fixed nozzle and exit cone
- - Provide thrust termination without explosive ordinance
- - Provides self destruct of vehicle without explosive ordinance