DARPA Putting Up 146 Million To Anyone Who Designs A Viable Reuseable Rocket
DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, has asked the aerospace industry for help. They’ve put out a request for designs of a small, first-stage rocket/ship of sorts that can launch into space, deploy a 3,000 to 5,000 pound payload and return to land on a runway.
The catch is that it has to have the capability of doing this ten days in a row and cheaply…essentially just fueling up and leaving again the next day like a normal aircraft. No currently designed rockets have any reusability close to that. SpaceX has been able to land their Falcon 9 rocket and re-use it, but it doesn’t have quick rinse and repeat capabilities like DARPA is asking for.
XS-1 (as they are calling the potentially designed aircraft)…won’t have time for extensive refurbishment. It should essentially be able to refuel and re-fly, like an airplane. And it should do it for $5 million per flight, around a tenth of the cost of a current launch – A & S
DARPA has put up $146 million to the person/team that submits a plan for what they are calling Phase II [creating a flying prototype] of the XS-1 project. This involves the creation of a viable design, then the funds will be available for development of the craft. Air & Space mag noted that they don’t believe the 146 million dollar investment will cover all the costs of actually developing, constructing and flying an actual demonstrator.
The reason this is called phase two is that in 2014 DARPA launched the XS-1 project by asking for designs and awarding three teams the opportunity to do design work on the XS-1: Boeing/Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman/Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites, and XCOR/Masten were all funded.
Now with Phase II launched, DARPA isn’t necessarily settled on choosing one of the primary three teams to develop the craft as they are accepting designs from everyone, but the original teams will certainty have an upper hand.
References: Air & Space
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