SAN DIEGO — DARPA is about to start a program to develop a reusable first stage that could be used to launch medium-sized satellites for as little as $5 million each.
Speaking at the AIAA Space 2013 conference here Sept. 12, Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said the agency would release a Broad Agency Announcement in the next few weeks for a program called Experimental Spaceplane, or XS-1. An industry day for the program is planned for early October.
“The goal of the program is to fly ten times in ten days, and to achieve Mach 10,” Melroy said. The XS-1 itself would not fly into orbit, but could carry an expendable upper stage to place payloads weighing up to 1,800 kilograms into orbit at a target price of $5 million per launch. The vehicle could also be used as a platform for hypersonics research.