DARPA Looking to Develop Unmanned Space Plane For Satellite Launches
September 18, 2013 2:27 PM
comment(s) - last by
DARPA's goal is to cut costs and increase convenience
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
is looking to create an unmanned vehicle for satellite launches that is faster, cheaper and more convenient than existing systems.
To do this, DARPA has introduced the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which encourages the development of a fully reusable unmanned vehicle that would launch satellites into space. It would look, act, and cost more like a traditional plane.
Current satellite launch technologies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars per flight, and can only fly a few times per year. To top it off, they typically require years of advanced scheduling.
“We want to build off of proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system with one-day turnaround,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager heading XS-1. “How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table—we’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible.”
The idea behind XS-1 is to have a vehicle that can operate from a clean pad, use only a small ground crew, and eliminate the need for costly specialized infrastructure.
Also ideal for XS-1 is a reusable first stage that would achieve hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude, and at that point, one or more expendable upper stages would detach and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit. The reusable hypersonic aircraft would then make its way back to earth and be prepared for the next flight.
The rapid turnaround between flights could be done through modular components, durable thermal protection systems and automatic launch/flight/recovery systems.
DARPA's goal is to develop a vehicle capable of flying 10 times in 10 days; reaching speeds of Mach 10+ at least once; launching a representative payload to orbit, and reducing the costs for small payloads by at least a factor of 10 to less than $5 million per flight.
Think you have what it takes to create what DARPA is looking for? The agency is holding an XS-1 Proposers’ Day on Monday, October 7, 2013. You must
register to enter
, and registration closes October 1.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: In other words
9/19/2013 7:33:21 AM
Skylon only works (on paper, although I am confident they can build it successfully) because it uses air-breathing engines. This means that it can get to a rather useful Mach5.5 using oxygen (which is the heavy part of the fuel load) that it didn't need to haul up from the ground. Basically, using air breathing engines reduces the launch mass by about 200-250tonnes.
Even a reduced sized Skylon for a smaller payload target will still be a $500million vehicle, which is a lot of capital to spread across small payload missions.
Given that the SABRE engines (air breathing) will need to be developed anyway, then using them as first stage engines of a staged vehicle, would be the optimal way of reducing launch costs and/or increasing lift capability. IMO the "space plane" concept ignores the fundamental engineering issues in favour of some misty-eyed single-stage-to-orbit fantasy. That whole space-plane fiction has been holding back cost efficient space/orbital access for decades.
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Most Popular Articles
Microsoft Band 2 Stays Focused on Fitness, Debuts Oct. 30, Priced at $249
October 6, 2015, 9:16 PM
Microsoft's HD-500 ("Display Dock"), the Magic Sauce Behind Continuum
October 6, 2015, 5:30 PM
Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL Finally Launch, w/ Windows 10, Liquid Cooling
October 6, 2015, 3:35 PM
Legere Blasts Microsoft for "Bull***t" Snub of T-Mobile and Verizon
October 9, 2015, 3:02 PM
Apple's First Fixes to iOS 9 Land w/ iOS 9.0.1 Release
September 23, 2015, 6:11 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information