Starfighters Space Advances Small Sat Launch Program with Italian Rocket

Inaugural F-104 underwing captive-carry test deemed international success

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida, November 24 2022 – Starfighters Space Inc. (“Starfighters” or the “Company”), the only commercial company in the world with the capability to fly at sustained MACH 2 with  the capability to launch payloads to space  is pleased to report that the National Research Council of Italy recently flew its Aviolancio rocket under the wing of an F-104 Starfighter from the former Shuttle Landing Facility at the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Starfighters Space, the operator of the only existing fleet of F-104 supersonic aircraft in the world, flew the rocket in a “captive-carry” configuration to collect data for a future air launch. The National Research Council is the largest public research institution in Italy and the project is funded by the Italian government. See figure 1.

Figure 1 – Activities within the AVIOLANCIO Project of the National Research Council funded by the Italian Government

Lucia Paciucci, project manager for the Aviolancio program, was flown in the chase plane to document the flight. She notes, “This flight could not have happened in Italy because of inherent constraints, and we appreciate the partnership and collaboration with Starfighters Space along with the important facility access for testing.”

Technical Manager Pantaleone Carlucci flew on the aircraft with the rocket and was ecstatic with the test and the collaboration, “The capabilities of the Starfighters’ F-104 are tremendous and it was a pleasure work with their team. We will be back in February to conduct the next set of tests.”

“This is only the first test and others will follow,” Carlucci continued.” Through ongoing captive-carry research, and onwards to a drop-test release, we are building the pathway to the maiden flight and the ability to reach suborbital altitude with a payload of 20 kilograms.”

Rick Svetkoff the president and lead pilot of Starfighters Space adds, “This was a significant step forward to the evolution of air launch research. As a former NAVY pilot, I appreciate working with NRC and in concert with the Italian government.” See figure 2.

Figure 2 – Aviolancio Flight Team

Piercarlo Ciacci, director of Starfighters Space flight operations and former Italian Air Force pilot who commanded the captive-carry flight advises, “The behaviors of the payload during the flight reflected closely to the studies and calculations during the past few months. This confirms the cooperative efforts with the partners and validates that we are on the right path for future missions.”

Both Paciucci and Carlucci praised the affiliate contractors Technology for Propulsion, and Innovation (T4i), who oversaw the rocket design, as well as Robby Moto Engineering who led the integration of the rocket to the aircraft and whom further notes, “we love working with small companies because they are smart and fast.”

Rick Svetkoff shared a parting thought, “While our NASA neighbor was launching the most powerful rocket in the world in its effort to return to the moon, we were here working on a small rocket with long term implications for successful space commerce, and I believe that small or large, while all bring equal passion to the job, our focus is on building a successful revenue-positive business venture.”

On behalf of Starfighters Space

“Rick Svetkoff”

Rick Svetkoff
President and Founder

For more information:

Starfighters Space Relations

Tel: +1 321-261-0900

About Starfighters Space

Starfighters Space Inc. is the only commercial company in the world with the capability to fly at sustained MACH 2 with the capability to launch payloads to space. Starfighters Space is an established organization committed to participating in high-demand commercial space activities. Located at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Company operates a fleet of seven supersonic F-104 jet aircraft operationally configurable to act as the first stage lifting vehicle to carry payloads up to 45,000 feet for air launch to space. Additional activities include support research, pilot training, space flight training, and advanced scientific efforts including hypersonic testing as part of air launch partner development programs. Starfighters Space is market-ready with minimal R&D effort and is working to position its capability to become the most cost-effective launch provider in the sector. For more information visit:

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