Chimera: A Low Cost Solution to Small Satellite Space Access
Hutchinson, Virgil L., Jr.
Young, David Anthony
Olds, John R.
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The Chimera rocket was designed to enter the small satellite market by offering an affordable and flexible alternative to the Pegasus launch vehicle. A number of design concepts were evaluated, and one was selected to undergo detailed analysis. This included disciplinary analyses in aerodynamics, propulsion, trajectory, aeroheating, structures, weights, operations, and cost. The baseline vehicle, consisting of a Minuteman 2-2 first stage, a PAM-S second stage, and a new third stage carries a 100 and 50 kg payload to a 700 km altitude, at inclinations of 60° and 110° respectively. At this point a Monte Carlo Simulation was performed to determine how well the system met its price goals. The baseline vehicle fails to meet the desired launch price of $5 million to a reasonable confidence level. However, either the implementation of a cost reduction in the cost of the first stage, or the infusion of appropriate structural and propellant technologies in the design of the third stage, help to make the desired launch price viable.