DARPA’s New Space Shuttle Getting Closer to Reality

An interesting look at DARPA’s XS-1 space plane.

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The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, is known for conceiving and testing some pretty advanced (read: cool) stuff. One of the projects getting closer to fruition that is drawing considerable attention, both technological as well as fiscal, is their XS-1 launch vehicle.

Billed as the next generation Space Shuttle, the XS-1 will be a reusable launch vehicle that will take payloads into space. Currently three contractors are in the mix to build the new spacecraft: Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and a partnership between private companies Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace. It is assumed that each of the three has received an equal share of the estimated $50 million spent to date on the project. Each also has its own design take.

So will it really be the next Space Shuttle? There are many differences between NASA’s iconic launch system and DARPA’s new endeavor.

XS-1 Won’t Actually Go Into Orbit

It…

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