Boeing has trumped Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems to snag a contract to manufacture DARPA’s spaceplane. The XS-1 is an experimental spaceship and if all goes well, the ship will be deployed for satellite launches. There are other rockets that can perform the task just as well however, with the XS-1, DARPA is aiming to get the cost of each launch down to merely $5 million.
Compare this with the private players currently in operation and SpaceX still charges clients in excess of tens of millions of dollars per launch. Still other companies charge clients well over one hundred million dollars. What is special about the XS-1 is the fact that it will be created using technologies sourced from NASA, the Airforce and private industries.
Here is a demo video for the XS-1:
The unique combination will translate into lightweight cryogenic propellant tanks and extra strong material to create the body of the spaceship. The spaceship is expected to reach massive speeds of up to MACH 10. The XS-1 will be capable of carrying up to 3000 pounds into space.
Speaking about the collaboration and the XS-1, DARPA program manager Jess Sponable said:
We’re very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 through Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our close collaboration in this newly funded progression to Phases 2 and 3—fabrication and flight.
There is still a lot of time to go before the rocket is finally ready to take flight. The design as well as the propulsion system need to be finalized and this process could well go into 2019. The next year will be spent in test flights and it will be then that the XS-1 will be deemed ready to take satellites into space.
Boeing has got a tough job on its hand, however,, if it can deliver, things will get even tougher for its competitors.