Launching satellites into orbit could get a lot cheaper thanks to an experimental space plane.
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This week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) revealed the design for the XS-1, which is set to be built by Boeing. The hypersonic aircraft would launch vertically, deploy a second stage to carry a satellite into orbit, and then land like a normal airplane.
Although the aircraft is still in the concept phase, DARPA believes the final result will be a vehicle that will provide “short-notice, low-cost access to space” for both military and commercial use. Initial tests of the XS-1 technology will attempt 10 flights over the course of 10 days with the ultimate goal being routine low-Earth orbit flights for around $5 million or less per launch. (Currently, it costs SpaceX about $62 million to launch its Falcon 9 rocket into orbit.) Read more…
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