Latest in Gear

Image credit: DARPA

Boeing is building DARPA's new hypersonic space plane

The XS-1 will make it possible to launch satellites at a moment's notice.
1760 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

DARPA

A few years ago, DARPA started work on a new experimental aircraft project called the XS-1, a vehicle designed to make launching satellites a faster, less expensive endeavor. Today, that project just took a huge leap forward: DARPA has announced that it's partnering with Boeing to build its next generation hypersonic space plane. Specifically, the aircraft manufacturer has been tapped to complete advanced design work on the XS-1 project, following up on the concept Boeing pitched to the agency during the project's early stages -- which it will now help build and test over the next several years.

In practice, this means Boeing is now building a unmanned, reusable hypersonic jet with the goal of running ten test flights over ten consecutive days by the year 2020 -- a program that's designed to prove that the XS-1 will be able to launch satellites into low-earth orbit on short notice. "The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two," DARPA's Jess Sponable explained in a press release. "With the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today's frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand."

The XS-1 will manage this feat by flying to suborbital heights without boosters before deploying a disposable, secondary rocket to push its payload into orbit. Better still, the spaceplane will be able to take a second satellite up within hours of delivering the first. Well, that's the plan anyway -- the project is still years away from being finished, and the earliest on-ground engine tests won't start until 2019 at the earliest. Until then, we'll have to settle for DARPA's concept video, which admittedly, is still pretty cool.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
1760 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The best mobile devices for students

The best mobile devices for students

View
Adam Driver investigates post-911 CIA tactics in 'The Report' trailer

Adam Driver investigates post-911 CIA tactics in 'The Report' trailer

View
OtterBox reveals a portable and stackable wireless charging system

OtterBox reveals a portable and stackable wireless charging system

View
Chevy's 2020 Bolt EV will pack a longer 259-mile range

Chevy's 2020 Bolt EV will pack a longer 259-mile range

View
Samsung updates mid-range A50 and A30 with new cameras, flashier designs

Samsung updates mid-range A50 and A30 with new cameras, flashier designs

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr