Click for larger image of the March 9, 2001 Microcosm Scorpius SR-XM flight. (26kb JPEG)

Successful Launch of SR-XM

El Segundo, CA.
March 26, 2001.

Microcosm successfully completed the first test flight of the Scorpius™ SR-XM dual engine suborbital rocket at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on March 9, 2001. The purpose of the test was to validate elements of the Scorpius low-cost launch technology intended to reduce the near-term cost of launch-to-orbit by a factor of 5 to 10. The Scorpius Program has been funded by multiple contracts from the US Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), NASA, and Microcosm internal R&D. SR-XM funding has been provided by AFRL, BMDO, and corporate R&D.

The SR-XM flight used the ultra-low-cost Scorpius 5,000 lb. thrust engines, avionics, and composite fuel tank. The vehicle is the first of a new liquid booster family and is the successor of the smaller SR-S launched in January, 1999. According to Microcosm President, Dr. James Wertz, "The successful flight of the SR-XM demonstrates the Scorpius technology and approach to dramatically driving down launch costs. Of course, considerable testing and development of larger orbital vehicles remains to be done. Nonetheless, the success of this second flight with a substantially larger vehicle demonstrates the viability of the flight system and its upward scalability. We are very appreciative of the support we have received from the Air Force and BMDO. We are also appreciative of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program which made possible the initial development work for the Scorpius Program."

The next steps in the Scorpius program will be the continued development and testing of low-cost Scorpius components and the launch of the SR-XM-2 Vehicle that will use the larger 20,000 lb. thrust engine currently in development. Engine testing will be done at the Energetic Materials Research Test Center (EMRTC) Rocket Test Site in Socorro, NM. Development of the SR-XM and larger vehicles is underway at the Microcosm facilities in El Segundo, CA.

The Scorpius program is managed and technically supported by the Air Force Research Lab, Space Vehicles Directorate. The AF program manager is Ken Hampsten. The Scorpius program manager is Dr. Robert Conger and the Chief Engineer is Jim Berry. According to Dr. Conger, "The entire Scorpius development team and support contractors deserve a big hand for the accomplishments of this launch."

For further information contact Dr. Robert Conger, Microcosm Vice President and Scorpius Program Manager, at 310-726-4100, or email

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Last Updated 11:43:58 AM PDT, Wednesday, April 11, 2001