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Michael Mewhinney                                                                  Sept. 20, 2004
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-3937 or 650/604-9000



NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and SpaceDev Co., of Poway, Calif., are collaborating on developing new low-cost space launch vehicles to help achieve the goals of the nation’s Vision for Space Exploration.

Under the terms of a newly signed memorandum of understanding, SpaceDev, a nationally recognized leader in the development of hybrid propulsion systems, will partner with NASA to explore designs for new, small piloted launch vehicles and flight test platforms to enable near-term, low-cost, routine space access for future exploration.

“I am delighted that we will be working with SpaceDev to help meet the goals of The Vision for Space Exploration,” said G. Scott Hubbard, director of NASA Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley. “Near-term, low-cost, piloted and unpiloted routine space access is a key for realizing the nation’s Exploration Vision. I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with SpaceDev to explore the technologies for a new class of exciting launch vehicles for future space exploration,” Hubbard said.

“We are pleased to be a partner with NASA in helping the nation achieve low-cost, routine access to space,” said Jim Benson, SpaceDev’s founding chairman and CEO. “We believe that our expertise in hybrid propulsion technology, combined with NASA’s hypersonic flight tests and the use of its world-class facilities, will provide an important new opportunity for meeting the nation’s space access needs.”

According to the new memorandum of understanding, potential areas of collaboration may include vehicle concept analyses; hybrid propulsion systems; systems engineering; detailed design; fabrication; reentry analyses and design; thermal protection systems; information technology; vehicle health monitoring; advanced hybrid propulsion fuels; wind tunnel, arc-jet facilities and flight simulator use; and experimental design and integration.

Founded in 1997, SpaceDev designed and built a new hybrid propulsion system for SpaceShipOne, the privately funded space vehicle that recently completed a successful launch in Mojave, Calif. Another flight is planned early next month. According to company officials, hybrid propulsion provides a level of safety, low costs and operational flexibility that are unmatched by conventional liquid fueled or solid rocket motors.



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