Spaceplane Shutdown

By Christopher J. Castelli / October 4, 2013 at 8:18 PM

The government shutdown is temporarily preventing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program from getting off the ground. DARPA today postponed its planned Oct. 7 proposers day for the effort due to "a lapse in federal appropriations." The agency "remains committed to the program and will email approved registrants of the new schedule when available," states a Federal Business Opportunities notice.

The event was supposed to include the introduction of the DARPA XS-1 program, including the philosophy behind the effort, goals, acquisition and program schedules and contract vehicle details. The goal of the XS-1 program is to design, build, and demonstrate a reusable Mach 10 aircraft capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000 to 5,000 pound payloads into low earth orbit at a target cost of less than $5 million per launch (at a flight rate of more than 10 flights/year), according to a previous DARPA announcement.

"Technologies derived from the XS-1 program will enable routine space launch capabilities with aircraft-like cost, operability and reliability," the agency writes. "The long-term intent is for XS-1 technologies to be transitioned to support not only next-generation launch for Government and commercial customers, but also global reach hypersonic and space access aircraft."