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  • Satellite Evolution Group

iRocket collaborates with Air Force Research Laboratory

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


iRocket has exclusive use of the High Thrust Research Facility at Edwards Air Force Base which can test up to ten million pounds of thrust. AFRL Courtesy Photo
iRocket has exclusive use of the High Thrust Research Facility at Edwards Air Force Base which can test up to ten million pounds of thrust. AFRL Courtesy Photo

Innovative Rocket Technologies has signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) West to develop engines and stage technology for their next-generation fully reusable Shockwave launch vehicle. Members from AFRL’s Rocket Propulsion Division at Edwards AFB, California, and iRocket, a privately-owned corporation, agreed on the collaborative effort in June 2023.


“Collaborating with iRocket via a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement includes use of a key facility, equipment, and AFRL expertise to enable both sides to develop, build, test and transition US rocket engines at a fast pace,” said Dr. Shawn Phillips, Chief of the Rocket Propulsion Division at AFRL. “iRocket will have the opportunity to further advance and demonstrate their high thrust technology. AFRL is very supportive of development efforts for rapid access to space to support Air Force and Space Force needs for 100% reusable rockets.”


iRocket is working to mature technology for their proprietary reusable landing engine technology, which uses liquid oxygen and liquid methane as propellants. AFRL locations and resources will be used to establish a capable testing site to support this objective. iRocket will be conducting propulsion, stage, and potentially grasshopper testing at Test Site 1-56, the High Thrust Research Facility, located at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base. The High Thrust Research Facility is one of only four stands in the United States capable of 10 million pounds of thrust.


“This collaborative agreement with AFRL is an important endorsement of the progress iRocket is making to transform how launch vehicles are powered,” said Blake Larson, former president of Northrop Grumman Space Systems and member of the iRocket board of directors. “The Edwards Air Force Base test facility enables iRocket to demonstrate and advance its capability to serve both national security and commercial space missions.”


The Air Force is also providing additional resources to support iRocket, including Subject Matter Expert (SME) support, test setup components, and site facility support. iRocket is currently supporting the United States Space Force on a TACFI contract to support its rapid responsive launch capabilities.


iRocket announced the TACFI contract award from the US Space Force Space Systems Command (SSC) on June 28, 2023. The test site at Edwards Air Force Base will be used for the full-duration static fire test under the SSC contract, which includes a 120-180 second demonstration of 37,000 lbs. of sea level thrust.


“We are thrilled to work with AFRL Rocket lab, The High Thrust Research Facility at site 1-56 will be home to iRocket’s testing team to test our next-gen reusable engines and evaluation of grasshopper testing for our Shockwave vehicle”, said iRocket CEO Asad Malik.


“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to further our RDT&E efforts to advance responsive space capabilities of interest to the Department of Defense (DoD)” said Julie Carlile, Deputy Chief of the Rocket Propulsion Division.


This agreement is expected to create hundreds of new high-paying engineering jobs at the High Thrust Research Facility at Edwards, AFB, with multiplier effects for the regional economy in LA County and the California desert. iRocket plans to help transport thousands of state-of-the-art satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), helping to shape the future of autonomous vehicles, Telemedicine, 5G High-Speed Internet, The Internet of Things (IoT), and online education.


For more information: www.irocketusa.com

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