Small Launch Vehicle
Pioneering responsive, cost-effective propulsion
Building next-generation launch structures
Leading the way in affordable launch systems


Affordable, responsive launch solutions

The need for on-demand intelligence and communications in remote geographical locations is increasing requirements for rapidly deployable and tailorable space assets.

Data indicates a booming market for satellites weighing less than 50kg — projected to grow to over 500 annually in the next 4 years.

Dynetics has enjoyed a 41-year history of success in flight system hardware development. We have the capability to rapidly develop affordable and operationally responsive systems to deliver payloads for suborbital and low Earth orbit (LEO) missions.

In developing our small launch vehicle, Dynetics has already ground tested key technologies for low-cost launch vehicles, including:

  • Storable and green propellants
  • Ultra low-cost tank design
  • Integrated thrust vector control system
  • Integrated tank and engine booster design
  • Integrated propellant valve
  • Rapid propellant conditioning and fill system

...Validated through subscale hot-fire engine testing and full-scale hot-fire booster stage testing

Vehicle Highlights

  • Supports DoD, NASA, university, and commercial nanosatellite activities
  • Simple, reliable, low-cost design
  • Safe, green bi-propellant liquid engine
  • Proven integrated tank/booster/engine
  • Clean-pad approach for affordability and launch availability
  • Rapid response
  • Compatible with multiple ranges
  • Provides delivery to LEO and a range of orbital capabilities
  • Applications:
  • Up to 25 kg orbital nanosatellites
  • Missile defense target vehicle
  • Sounding rocket for experiments
SLV banner

The Need for Small Launch Vehicle Technology Development and Demonstration

SLV tall image

While market projections are promising, an integrated orbital flight technology demonstration is needed for affordable, reliable and rapid small launch.

  • Utilize the NASA STMD Game Changing Technologies Program annual BAA with an amendment for a two-year SLV development and demonstration flight

Phase I ( 1st year ) - Complete the design and critical testing for a SLV:

  • Phase I (1st year) — Complete the design and critical testing for an SLV:
  • Flight dynamics and wind tunnel testing
  • Avionics qualification
  • Complete long-lead procurements
  • Booster and engine hot fire
  • Environmental testing
  • Ground Support Equipment (GSE)
  • Booster buildup

Phase II ( 2nd year ) - Complete an orbital flight demonstration:

  • Complete ground testing
  • Complete GSE development/manufacture
  • Complete launch vehicle/stage manufacture and assembly
  • Obtain range safety/operations approval
  • Complete integration, test, and operations
  • Complete orbital flight demonstration

Given the dynamic nature of this market and the need for U.S. government investment in the technology area:

  • SLV technology demonstrations should be designed, manufactured, and tested in the U.S.
  • The government should own the intellectual property and make it available to U.S. companies to leverage for later commercial launch services
  • Will drive to the lowest commercial operations cost
  • Firms should be required to submit:
  • Viable commercialization plans showing a path to a $5M or less per launch
  • Credible plans for FAA license approval and range operations
  • Ground-launched concepts since DARPA is already developing air-launched technology
  • Infrastructure-independent designs– requiring the vehicle to bring its own launch and propellant assets

For more information, call 256-964-4990, or email Darren Gero.

Propulsion capabilities

Dynetics creates innovative, reliable propulsion systems based on customers’ schedule and cost requirements. We provide comprehensive and rapid design, development, and fabrication, from initial prototyping through low-volume production. We also provide the agility to adapt to changing customer requirements throughout the lifecycle.

Our design and first-article production process for complex products is measured in weeks or months, rather than years. We have experience with multiple propellants including liquid and gaseous oxygen, JP-8, RP-1, methane, hydrogen, propane, ethane, nitrous oxide, HTPB, HAN, hydrazine, and hydrogen peroxide. We maintain two propulsion test sites, offering:

  • Capability to hot-fire test up to 50,000 lbf class propulsion systems
  • Cryogenic propellant test rig
  • Large cryogenic structures testing
  • Water-cooled thrust chambers
  • Environmental/thermal vacuum chamber
  • Tank burst cell and polycarbonate hydro proof/burst chamber
  • Anechoic test chamber
  • Pressurization test area

Launch support

Our pre-launch support includes mission operations procedures; spacecraft commands and timelines; mission operations simulations; flight support systems; telemetry displays and data analysis tools; avionics test bed and simulators; and communication and data network design. We have expertise in all phases of operational support and preparation for flight and operation readiness approvals.

Our launch support services, which span from integration testing through delivery and launch, encompass ground support equipment, ground operations plans and procedures, launch vehicle compatibility verifications, launch site delivery, spacecraft test and launch preparation, and launch vehicle spacecraft integration.