DARPA has long been the source of some of the American military’s most advanced weapon systems, vehicles, and communication technologies, and now they’ve joined with Boeing to set their sights on the stars.  Last month, DARPA announced their selection of the Boeing Company to complete the advanced design work on their experimental space plane (XS-1) program.

The intent behind this initiative it simple: reduce the amount of time required to prepare a launch into low-earth orbit from the current timeline of months or even years down to just mere days.  According to the agency, doing so would require significant leaps in what we’re capable of in terms of ground operations and technological capabilities, but accomplishing this goal “would revolutionize the Nation’s ability to recover from a catastrophic loss of military or commercial satellites, upon which the Nation today is critically dependent.”

“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,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager.

“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.”