The US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a contract to SpaceDev to design and begin development of the low-cost Streaker small launch vehicle.

The hybrid Streaker will offer quick-response launches of payloads in the 500kg (1,100lb) class to low-Earth orbit. Streaker uses an environmentally friendly, hybrid solid fuel-liquid oxidiser propulsion system. The motors can be throttled, shut down and restarted.

The US Air Force has indicated a need for a responsive launch vehicle capable of launching small payloads quickly and SpaceDev is already developing the CHIPSat microsatellite and Common Aero Vehicles.

The company has also developed small hybrid motor technology for the National Reconnaissance Office and is working on a Space Shuttle and US Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-compatible hybrid space tug, which will make use of artificial intelligence technology.

Source: Flight International