Boe­ing’s space­plane

Pilot - - PILOT NOTES -

Boe­ing is col­lab­o­rat­ing with DARPA on the XS-1, an au­ton­o­mous, re­us­able ve­hi­cle to launch satel­lites into low earth or­bit

Boe­ing and the US De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency (DARPA) are col­lab­o­rat­ing to de­velop a tech­nol­ogy demon­stra­tion ve­hi­cle for the Ex­per­i­men­tal Space­plane XS-1 pro­gramme. Boe­ing will de­sign an au­ton­o­mous, re­us­able ve­hi­cle called Phan­tom Ex­press that will be ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing and de­ploy­ing a small ex­pend­able up­per stage to launch satel­lites weigh­ing up to 3,000 lb into low earth or­bit. Once the craft reaches the edge of space it will de­ploy the sec­ond stage and re­turn to land on a run­way like a con­ven­tional air­craft and be read­ied for its next mis­sion. A liq­uid oxy­gen/liq­uid hy­dro­gen-fuelled Aero­jet Rock­et­dyne AR-22 en­gine, a ver­sion of the Space Shut­tle’s main en­gine, will power Phan­tom Ex­press. In the test phase of the pro­gramme, Boe­ing and DARPA plan to con­duct ten demon­stra­tion flights over a ten-day pe­riod.

“Phan­tom Ex­press is de­signed to dis­rupt and trans­form the satel­lite launch process as we know it to­day, cre­at­ing a new, on-de­mand space-launch ca­pa­bil­ity that can be achieved more af­ford­ably and with less risk,” said Darryl Davis, Pres­i­dent, Boe­ing Phan­tom Works. “It would of­fer an ad­vanced air­frame de­sign as well as third-gen­er­a­tion ther­mal pro­tec­tion to cre­ate a ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of fly­ing at high flight ve­loc­ity while car­ry­ing a smaller, more af­ford­able ex­pend­able up­per stage to achieve the mis­sion ob­jec­tives.”

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