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Kelly Space and Technology's Eclipse

Kelly Space and Technology (KST) is developing a family of tow-launched suborbital rocketplanes which would place satellites into orbit using an expendable upper stage. In October 1996, Motorola signed a contract to launch 20 Iridium satellites in ten launches on an as-needed basis, beginning possibly as early as 1999. Three versions of the Eclipse vehicle are planned. In order of capacity from smallest to largest they are: the Sprint, the Express, and the Astroliner. The Sprint will launch only suborbital payloads, while the Express will launch suborbital and microsat orbital missions. The Astroliner would be capable of launching small payloads into LEO. By 1997 KST was conducting ground and flight tests of the Eclipse tow-launch technique using modified U.S. Air Force supplied QF-106 aircraft, along with the USAF Flight Test Center-supplied C-141A tow aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:46:22 ZULU