DARPA selected the Boeing Company in May 2017 to complete advanced design work for the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which intends to develop and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic spacecraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost satellite launches into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager, said during a press conference in May 2017. “We’re very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 through Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our close collaboration in this newly funded progression to Phases 2 and 3—fabrication and flight.”
With XS-1 Phase 1 recently completed, it seems as DARPA has transitioned into XS-1 Phase 2, which includes design, construction, and testing of the technology demonstration vehicle through 2019. It also calls for test firing the vehicle’s engine on the ground ten times in 10 days to demonstrate propulsion readiness for flight tests, which was just completed on July 06 by Aerojet, Boeing, and DARPA.