DARPA Kicks Off Reusable UAV Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new project to develop a reusable unmanned aerial vehicle that would travel to-and-from space and deploy small satellites while in orbit.

DARPA also wants XS-1 to fly 10 times in 10 days, achieve speeds of Mach 10 or greater at least once and launch a representative payload to orbit, the agency said Tuesday.

Stage one of an XS-1 flight would have the vehicle travel at hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude and have one or more expendable upper stages separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit.

The aircraft would return to earth, land and be prepared for the next flight, DARPA says.

“We want to build off of proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system with one-day turnaround,” said Jess Sponable, DARPA’s XS-1 program manager.

“How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table—we’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible,” Sponable added.

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