NASA Armstrong is developing a new TGALS launch system

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s space launch system is attracting interest from companies that need to put satellites into orbit.

The Towed Glider Air Launch System (TGALS) is an inexpensive way to launch satellites and other payloads into space.

Developed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., the innovative TGALS technology uses an inexpensive airframe to carry rockets and launch them in the sky.

TGALS technology uses an aircraft to tow a remotely piloted glider with a booster mounted underneath.

After launching at an altitude of about 12,000 meters, the glider uses its own small rocket engine to fly higher and release a booster. After that, the glider returns to the airfield for storage until the next flight.

TGALS is not tied to spaceports, and can take off anywhere where there is an airport. It also allows you to be less dependent on start windows.

The system provides enhanced safety by not having a crew on board the aircraft to which the potentially explosive missile is attached.

Phoenix Space Inc. in San Bernardino signed a license agreement with NASA to use TGALS technology. NASA Armstrong is in talks with a second company also interested in the technology.

While private companies are showing interest in licensing TGALS technology, it could be a valuable tool for the US Department of Defense, said Ben Tomlinson, NASA’s Armstrong Technology Transfer Officer.

TGALS could team up with Sky Range, a program that uses Global Hawk high-altitude aircraft to provide telemetry for hypersonic research missions, Tomlinson said.

“TGALS could be an alternative method of delivering hypersonic vehicles to the test site,” said Craig Stevens, aerospace engineer at NASA Armstrong. “It could be an easier system to use. Perhaps it will provide a little more flexibility at launch.”

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