DARPA And Boeing Teaming Up For XS-1 Hypersonic Spaceplane
What do you get when you takes one group of geniuses and another group of geniuses? Something really amazing that you’d only see in sci-fi films. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA AKA the department that turns imagination into reality) has announced that Boeing will complete the advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane, the XS-1.
DARPA states that the XS-1 project looks to create an aerospace platform. It would be a hypersonic airplane with the capability to launch on short notice with little cost that could reach low-Earth orbit to deliver munitions. It would be specifically designed to help increase the U.S. national security.
“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager.
Engineers at DARPA are looking into having the WS-1 model to be the size of a business jet that will have vertical launch capabilities. It will be looking to abstain from having to use any external boosters when launching from the ground, and it will use a cryogenic fuel to get it to the hypersonic speeds in needs to hit low-Earth orbit.
DARPA created its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to help create a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. The program aims to develop a fully-reusable unmanned vehicle that would provide aircraft-like access to space and deploy small satellites to orbit using expendable upper stages. XS-1 seeks to deploy small satellites faster and more affordably, and develop technology for next-generation hypersonic vehicles. (Via DARPA)
As the XS-1 thrusts into low-Earth orbit, it would “release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound satellite to polar orbit.” Once the launch is completed, the craft would return to where it was launched, and then it would be ready for another launch within a few hours. If you think about the time it takes to ready a rocket to launch a satellite into orbit, this would be amazingly faster and more cost effective way to get things into orbit.
With the mindtrust working on this project, there’s little doubt this technology will be the norm. Check out the DARPA concept below:
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