Fri, 19 October, 2012
Prototype Reusable Rocket Effort Felled by U.S. Budget Woes
By Warren Ferster

WASHINGTON — Due to “unexpected funding reductions,” the U.S. Air Force is discontinuing work on a prototype reusable rocket design effort that the U.S. National Research Council recently cited as a key steppingstone to an operational system.

The Air Force had budgeted $250 million through 2019 for the reusable booster system (RBS) Pathfinder program, intended to demonstrate a kerosene-fueled first stage that would fly back to its launch site after completing its mission. The Air Force Research Laboratory in December awarded RBS Pathfinder study contracts worth about $2 million apiece to Andrews Space of Seattle, Boeing Phantom Works of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver.

“Lockheed Martin, Andrews Space, and Boeing recently completed the technical period of the phase I portion of the Pathfinder program and the contractual period of performance will end in December, 2012,” Ted Theopolous, a spokesman for the laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, said in an emailed response to Space News questions. “Due to unexpected reductions in program funding, [the Air Force Research Laboratory] does not plan to make any future contract awards related to the Pathfinder program.”

Read more: Prototype Reusable Rocket Effort Felled by US Budget Woes | Space News.

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