ARES - Affordable REsponsive Spacelift
The United States Air Force is embarking upon a demonstration program for the ARES - Affordable REsponsive Spacelift launch system. The ARES concept was developed specifically to create a transformational spacelift capability, embodying affordability, responsiveness, simplicity of operations, and reliability for a wide range of payload classes. This capability will support tactically deployed space assets, as well as conventionally deployed satellites.
Based on experience gained from both operational and experimental vehicles, on government and industry studies, and on the Operationally Responsive Spacelift (ORS) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), the Air Force has determined that this capability will take the form of a family of modular ARES launch vehicles. The ARES family of vehicles will provide affordable responsive lift for all or most of the DoD payload manifest.
The ARES concept is that of a reusable fly-back booster with expendable upper stages. This concept was found to be highly responsive (24-48 hour turnaround), but to have lower costs generally than either fully expendable or fully reusable vehicles. The reason for this is that, for a given payload mass, the ARES concept expends relatively little hardware mass (about a third of a fully expendable vehicle), and requires development of relatively little reusable hardware mass (about a third of a fully reusable vehicle).
The Air Force will develop a subscale demonstration vehicle and associated ground hardware to conduct flight demonstrations in 2010. The goals of the demonstrator are to: 1) reduce technical integration risks; 2) provide data for high-confidence estimates of full scale system cost and operability; and 3) demonstrate Air Force's ability to field the system in a timely and affordable fashion. The demonstration program will be a joint effort between Air Force Space Command and the Air Force Research Lab.
ARES Phase 1 is a research and development effort being acquired under the procedures of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 35.016, Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) which is the authority for the Air Force's Program Research & Development Announcement (PRDA) Process. Any ARES-Concept Development and Demonstration Planning Phase I contract(s) are intended to conceptually design ARES launch architectures, flight vehicles, and to plan for fight demonstrations. Information generated under this PRDA will assist the Government in the acquisition, development, and flight test/evaluation of the follow-on $200 - 250M ARES Flight Demonstration Phase II/III RFP.
The expected award of any ARES PRDA contract(s) will be the third quarter of FY05. Total program funding for this PRDA effort is $12 M: $1.5M in FY05, $4.5M for FY06, and up to $6M in FY07 via an unfunded option that may awarded at the discretion of the Government. The Government reserves the right to limit the funding for any single contract to not exceed 30% of the total Government PRDA funding available in any given fiscal year and/or for the total period of performance.
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