NASA's Towed Twin-Fuselage Glider Launch System

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center's Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS) is designed to launch satellites from a twin-fuselage glider, which is towed by a conventional aircraft. The goal of TGALS is the same as that of DARPA's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) - to create a more economical space launch system for small satellites that replaces the first stage booster rocket with a conventional aircraft. Following release at about 40,000 feet, the glider would launch a booster rocket into an optimal trajectory to place its payload into low Earth orbit. A test flight of a scale prototype was successfully conducted last year, and used radio-controlled, one-third scale models of both glider and rocket.