DARPA awards Phase 1 reusable spaceplane contracts to three teams

by | Jul 17, 2014 | commercial launch services, Technology | 0 comments

In a news release the US DARPA agency has announced the award of three research contracts examining configurations in its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1).  The prime contracts worth reportedly circa US$4 million for Phase 1 of XS-1 have been awarded to three teams:

  • The Boeing Company (working with Blue Origin, LLC)
  • Masten Space Systems (working with XCOR Aerospace)
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation (working with Virgin Galactic)

The XS-1 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.  XS-1 envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude. At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The reusable first stage would then return to earth, land and be prepared for the next flight. Modular components, durable thermal protection systems and automatic launch, flight and recovery systems should significantly reduce logistical needs, enabling rapid turnaround between flights.

Key XS-1 technical goals include flying 10 times in 10 days, flying to Mach 10+ at least once and launching a representative small payload to orbit. The program also seeks to reduce the cost of access to space for 1,360 to 2,250kg payloads to less than US$5 million per flight.

In Phase 1 of XS-1, DARPA intends to evaluate the technical feasibility and methods for achieving the program’s goals. Tasks currently include:

  1. Develop the XS-1 demonstration vehicle
  2. Identify and conduct critical risk reduction of core component technologies and processes
  3. Develop a technology maturation plan for fabrication and flight test of XS-1 system capabilities

DARPA expects the performers to explore alternative technical approaches from the perspectives of feasibility, performance, system design and development cost and operational cost. They must also assess potential suitability for near-term transition opportunities to military, civil and commercial users. These opportunities include both launching small payloads per the program goals as well as others, such as supporting future hypersonic testing and a future space access aircraft.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

South Korea confirms shift of two missions from Russian launchers; Kompsat 6 goes to Arianespace and CAS500-2 goes back to international market

The South Korean vice-minister for Science, Oh Tae-seog, announced on 1 February 2023 that they had selected an Arianespace Vega Read more

NASA goes Nuclear Thermal as it plans to launch engine on DARPA’s DRACO project test mission in 2027

Nuclear Thermal rocket propulsion has been mooted since the 1960s. The idea is to use nuclear power to heat rocket Read more

What’s Next for Space Exploration in 2023 and Beyond

Much changed on Earth and in space during 2022. In July the James Webb Telescope, the largest optical telescope in Read more

Freshly minted Kongsberg NanoAvionics receives CubeSat orders from two French customers

Lithuanian smallsat manufacturer NanoAvionics - now known as Kongsberg NanoAvionics - has been awarded satellite contracts from two French companies. Read more

China launches a technology test satellite, Shiyan 21

At 0617 GMT on 16 December a Long March 11 (CZ-11) rocket placed the Shiyan 21 test satellite into LEO. Read more

Arianespace wins orders for five Vega-C missions to carry Copernicus satellites and a dual Ariane 6 launch for Intelsat

Rounding off November with an impressive haul, European launch provider Arianespace has announced seven orders for its launch vehicles. The Read more

Upcoming American in-orbit servicer Starfish Space contracts with launch arranger to get its demonstrator into orbit

On 9 November Starfish Space an American newspace company contracted with Launcher a compatriot to carry its first demonstration satellite Read more

MPR-1 lunar rover is being built by STELLS while Canadensys Aerospace gets lunar rover contract from Canadian Space Agency

The Canadian space start-up firm STELLS has announced that it is working on a rover to go to the Moon. Read more

Categories

Archives