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"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," DARPA program manager Jess Sponable said in a statement. "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." [DARPA's Experimental XS-1 Space Plane in Pictures]
"After multiple shakedown flights to reduce risk, the XS-1 would aim to fly 10 times over 10 consecutive days, at first without payloads and at speeds as fast as Mach 5," DARPA officials wrote in a statement. "Subsequent flights are planned to fly as fast as Mach 10, and deliver a demonstration payload between 900 pounds and 3,000 pounds [400 to 1,360 kg] into low Earth orbit." (Mach 5 means five times the speed of sound, which equates to 3,806 mph, and Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound, is 7,612 mph.)
The Phantom Express XS-1 is designed to launch to the edge of space, and deploy a piggyback-mounted second stage that would carry a satellite the rest of the way into orbit. The space plane would then return to Earth to make a runway landing.