The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Boeing the contract to build the spaceplane as it tries to make launching satellites cheaper and easier.
Known as the XS-1, the purpose of the spaceplane is to get the cost down to $5 million per launch, as flying at least 10 times per year.
“The XS-1 is neither a traditional aircraft nor a conventional launch vehicle, but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of reducing launch costs by a factor of ten, and the replacement of the current frustrating long wait time with the launch on the question,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager, in a press release.
WHO IS THE BOSS OF THE SPACE?
Sponable added that DARPA is “very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 to Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our cooperation in this new funded progression of Phases 2 and 3—fabrication and flight.”
Below is a concept video of the plane:
Boeing, which beat out Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems to build the XS-1, should be able to get the vessel up to a speed of Mach 10, and the deployment of a 3,000-pound satellite in a polar orbit.”
The second part of the design process will run until 2019, when the design will be completed, and a propulsion system will be tested for a flight. The third phase includes 12 to 15 test flights, scheduled for 2020, as well as having 10 flights on 10 consecutive days.
“We are pleased to see that this is really futuristic possibilities closer to reality,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. “Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for the performance of essential Department of Defense should and would be able to help open the door to a range of the next generation of commercial opportunities.”