The US Army plans to deploy tiny satellites for various tactical missions using the Nanomissile system.
The 12ft-long and 60cm-wide multipurpose Nanomissile system was conceived by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) as a liquid-fuelled core booster increased by various strap-on solid-rocket motors.
In 2008 the army contracted Colsa Corporation and Dynetics Corporation to develop the multipurpose Nanomissile system's core booster at a cost of $7m. The army will now spend about $17m more to complete the development.
Dynetics director of space technologies Steve Cook said the booster's propulsion system would be developed using a nitrous oxide-ethane blend to produce 3,000lb of thrust and will be the smallest launch vehicle in the US.
SMDC manager for nanosatellite technology programmes John London said the rocket could also be used as a potential missile defense target, sounding rocket and hypersonic test vehicle.
The army has plans to build large, cheap constellations of spacecraft that can be easily replaced, and had not built a satellite in almost 50 years until recently.