DOD wants smart jets to launch satellites into orbit

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has established a $145 million program to develop technology that will enable specially configured airliners to catapult satellites into orbit, reports Katie Drummond at Wired's Danger Room blog.
 
The agency’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program would develop a way for subsonic airliners, which would takeoff from a conventional runway, to reach a specific destination in the sky and then fire a satellite on a desired trajectory.
 
The approach would have clear benefits; namely, it would eliminate the need to plan and prepare a fixed launch site, which requires months of forethought and is vulnerable to postponement because of weather, natural disasters or even attacks from adversaries. The concept is a key component of the Defense Department's plan for deep space warfare in the future, according to the blog.
 

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