DARPA and Boeing Team Up to Create "New Wave" of Space Planes
DARPA, or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has had a long-standing reputation as a leader in bizarre, cutting-edge, seemingly fictitious innovation—especially in spacecraft development. But in this day and age of wild ideas of how to propel humankind to Mars, DARPA's latest announcement looks suitably futuristic.
DARPA has contracted the Boeing Company to advance its spacecraft designs as part of its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The program aims to build, launch, and fly the first hypersonic aircraft as part of a completely new wave of craft. This "new wave" would act as a national security effort, and would allow increased access to space. Those venturing out into the cosmos would be able to do so quickly and at a relatively low cost. This project hopes to allow for speedy travel into low Earth orbit, with launch prep taking mere days compared to the months and years that are typically required to get even one satellite into orbit.
According to Jess Sponable, a program manager at DARPA:
As initiatives like the Space Corps advance, it becomes clearer that the safety of satellites is imperative to national security. Just about every aspect of modern life depends on the ability to send information, communicate, and otherwise connect using satellites. From our personal smartphones to confidential government intelligence, compromising the safety of satellites is compromising the safety of everyone. Hopefully, Boeing's XS-1 will strengthen our future security.