Tech | May 26, 2017 12:36 pm

Boeing Lands Contract to Build DARPA’s Innovative XS-1 Spaceplane

Vehicle would allow for cheap, simple flights to space for satellite deployment.

Boeing’s expert aeronautical engineers will soon be giving Elon Musk’s SpaceX a run for his money.

According to TechCrunch, the airline giant has landed the contract to build the XS-1, a specially designed spaceplane that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will use for low-cost trips to space. The goal would be to fly the XS-1 at least 10 times a year at about $5 million per flight—way less than what it normally costs to launch a spaceship.

But what it will shed in terms of price-per-launch, it will gain in innovation. Notes TechCrunch:

“It’s meant to be a fusion of all the high-tech stuff from NASA, the Air Force and private sector aerospace, like lightweight cryogenic propellant tanks and super-strong and durable composite wings that can handle re-entry temperatures. It should be able to go at speeds up to Mach 10, and deliver payloads weighing up to 3,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit.”

Of course, this will only be Phase 1 of a multi-pronged construction/development process. The second phase won’t begin until 2019, but test flights are set to start by 2020.

Watch a concept video on phases 2-3 for the spaceplane below.