DARPA’s Secretive “Phantom Express” Hypersonic Spaceplane Passes Key Test

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DARPA selected the Boeing Company in May 2017 to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which intends to develop and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic spacecraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost satellite launches into low Earth Orbit (LEO).

“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager, said during a press conference in May 2017. “We’re very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 through Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our close collaboration in this newly funded progression to Phases 2 and 3—fabrication and flight.”

With XS-1 Phase 1 recently completed, it seems as DARPA has transitioned into XS-1 Phase 2, which includes design, construction, and testing of the technology demonstration vehicle through 2019. It also calls for test firing the vehicle’s engine on the ground ten times in 10 days to demonstrate propulsion readiness for flight tests, which was just completed on July 06 by Aerojet, Boeing, and DARPA.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR-22 rocket engine fires during a test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. (Source: NASA / DARPA Photo)

Technicians inspect the AR-22 rocket engine after a hot-fire test. (Source: NASA / DARPA Photo)

Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully test-fired its AR-22 rocket engine an unprecedented ten times in 240 hours at NASA Stennis Space Center last week, demonstrating just how quick the launch vehicle, dubbed the Phantom Express, can be reloaded with fuel and relaunched.

Why focus on relaunching spaceplanes at a moments notice? Well, the Pentagon sees a shooting conflict on the horizon, and it is not on land, but instead in LEO.

To combat such a threat, President Trump recently declared the ‘Space Force’ as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Force. Coincidence? Not at all.

XS-1 Phantom Express (Source: NASA / DARPA Photo)

“Aerojet Rocketdyne has continued to refine the reusable engine technology we originally developed for the Space Shuttle program,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president.

“With the AR-22 we are taking reusability to the next level and have demonstrated that daily, affordable access to space is within …read more

Source:: Zerohedge.com

      

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