The Air Force has selected Lockheed Martin to demonstrate the Reusable Booster System, a winged, rocket-powered spacelift vehicle envisioned as a more affordable and responsive option to current expendable space launch vehicles, announced the company on Monday. “We are very pleased to be selected by the Air Force to support them on the Reusable Booster System program,” said John Karas, Lockheed’s vice president and general manager of Human Space Flight. The company will conduct initial ground and flight experiments, leading up to a flight demonstration vehicle dubbed the RBS Pathfinder that is scheduled to launch in 2015. The pathfinder will validate the requirements for the design of the operational RBS, according to the company. Lockheed said its industry team will conduct flight test operations from Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, in southern New Mexico. The company will operate under a five-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a total potential value up to $250 million.
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.