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"DARPA COMMISSIONS BOEING TO BUILD A HYPERSONIC SPACEPLANE"
DARPA has announced that it has selected Boeing to design and build a new reusable, hypersonic spaceplane called the Phantom Express which will be capable of flying into high suborbital altitudes to launch satellites into orbit before landing back on Earth horizontally like an airplane.
Unlike the Air Force's X-37B unmanned spaceplane that launches on top of an Atlas V rocket, the Phantom Express, also known as XS-1, will launch vertically on its own internal engines using cryogenic propellants - liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen - reminiscently like the old space shuttles. This spaceplane, at the size of about a business jet, would fly at hypersonic speeds over Mach 5 to reach suborbital altitudes before releasing its satellite-launching second stage. "Phantom Express is designed to disrupt and transform the satellite launch process as we know it today, creating a new, on-demand space-launch capability that can be achieved more affordably and with less risk," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, in a press release. If the program is successful, DARPA predicts the XS-q could operate with costs under $5 million per launch (which is considered very cheap in the rocket market).
Read more about this fascinating story on Popularmechanics.com
Written and Condensed by K. Tam
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