Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…
XS-1: A Closer Look at the Government’s Latest — and Sanest? — Attempt to Reduce Launch Costs
Artist's conception of a nominal X-S1 vehicle. (Credit: DARPA)

Artist’s conception of a nominal X-S1 vehicle. (Credit: DARPA)

In the era of bell bottoms and Richard Nixon, there was the space shuttle.

When Ronald Reagan ruled the roost, all hope rested in the National Aerospace Plane.

During the Bill Clinton era, there were the X-33 and Venture Star.

In Barack Obama’s first term, the Air Force pursued its Reusable Booster System (RBS).

Five programs. One objective: to radically reduce the cost to orbit. More than $14 billion spent on development. And the result? A super expensive shuttle program. Four vehicles that never flew. And access to space just kept getting more expensive.

Undaunted by these previous failures, the brilliant engineers and scientists at DARPA are once again giving it  the old college try. And this time around, they believe the technology has finally caught up with the ambition of making flying into orbit a daily occurrence.


  • Parabolic Arc
  • November 18, 2013