Friday, July 15, 2016

Why DARPA is Pushing the XS-1 Spaceplane

Citing increasing U.S. launch costs and the “fleeing” of commercial customers to foreign launch service providers, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is continuing to push a bold strategy tied to a new, reusable spaceplane that the Agency envisions flying 10 times in 10 days for a cost of less than $5 million USD per flight.

The issue:

As defined by DARPA, the “Dramatic growth in U.S. launch costs since [the] early 1990s is driving much larger growth in space system costs.”

As part of DARPA’s “Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1): Aiming to Reduce the Time to Space and Cost to Space by Orders of Magnitude” overview (video and materials in L2), the program cites an annual DoD (Department of Defense) launch cost in excess of $3 billion USD, with small launches now cited as greater than $50 million USD each.

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