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[SFN] Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program
« dnia: Luty 18, 2020, 08:20 »
Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program
January 22, 2020 Stephen Clark

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEZDWoJdC7w" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEZDWoJdC7w</a>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEZDWoJdC7w&feature=emb_title

After receiving more than $150 million in U.S. military funding to design and develop a reusable winged spaceplane named Phantom Express, Boeing said Wednesday it is ending its work on the vehicle, effectively killing a program military officials hoped would offer regular, reduced-cost launch opportunities for small satellites.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced Wednesday that Boeing informed the military of its intention to withdraw from the Experimental Spaceplane Program immediately.

Boeing won a $146 million funding agreement from DARPA in May 2017 to develop and fly the reusable spaceplane. The aerospace contractor partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide propulsion for the Phantom Express vehicle using a hydrogen-fueled AR-22 engine derived from engines flown on the space shuttle.

Boeing said in a statement Wednesday that the company decided to end its role on the Experimental Spaceplane Program, or XSP, “following a detailed review.”

“We will now redirect our investment from XSP to other Boeing programs that span the sea, air and space domains,” said Jerry Drelling, a Boeing spokesperson.

“We’re proud to have been part of a DARPA-led industry team that collaborated to advance launch-on-demand technology,” Drelling said in a statement. “We will make it a priority to harvest the significant learnings from this effort and apply them as Boeing continues to seek ways to provide future responsive, reusable access to space.”

Boeing’s decision effectively ends DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane program, according to Jared Adams, a DARPA spokesperson.

“However, the objectives of the program remain of interest, and may be explored in separate efforts,” Adams said in response to questions from Spaceflight Now.

DARPA said it is negotiating the termination of Boeing’s agreement on the spaceplane program. The program was structured as a public-private partnership, with Boeing responsible for contributing private funding to support the development of the Phantom Express spaceplane.

The Experimental Spaceplane Program, formerly known as XS-1, started in 2013 to develop “an entirely new class of reusable launch vehicles, relevant to both civil and military sectors,” DARPA said in a statement.

“The program sought to develop a launch system with aircraft-like operability, including flying on demand, the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively turn the system around between flights, a low ground infrastructure footprint, and low recurring costs,” DARPA said.

The Phantom Express vehicle proposed by Boeing would have taken off vertically from a conventional launch pad, then release an upper stage at hypersonic speeds near the edge of space to accelerate into orbit. The upper stage would have been single-use and disposable, and the Phantom Express booster would have returned to Earth for a runway landing, ready to fly again on another mission.

DARPA previously said an end goal for the Experimental Spaceplane Program was to launch 10 times in 10 days, with recurring operating costs as little as $5 million per flight, including the disposable upper stage.

Boeing’s Phantom Works division led the Phantom Express project for DARPA. The Boeing team, supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne, won an agreement to work on Phases 2 and 3 of the Experimental Spaceplane Program in 2017.

At the time, DARPA and Boeing said the first Phantom Express technology demonstration vehicle could be completed in 2019 as part of Phase 2 of the program. In Phase 3, engineers planned to perform 12 to 15 flight tests beginning in 2020, first without payloads and at speeds as fast as Mach 5.

Then the spaceplane was to have flown to a speed of Mach 10 and release an upper stage carrying a small payload into low Earth orbit.

DARPA selected Boeing’s proposal in 2017 over bids from Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems, which participated alongside Boeing in the Phase 1 design phase of the Experimental Spaceplane Program. Northrop Grumman proposed partnering with Virgin Galactic on its spaceplane proposal, and Masten was working with XCOR Aerospace, a now-defunct company that had ambitions in the space tourism and propulsion market.

Boeing originally considering partnering with Blue Origin — Jeff Bezos’s space company — on the DARPA spaceplane project, but ultimately decided to go with Aerojet Rocketdyne as an engine supplier.



Artist’s illustration of the launch of Boeing’s Phantom Express vehicle powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine. Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne/Boeing

Financial information posted on a federal government procurement website show DARPA obligated more than $156 million in payments since 2014. The most recent payment to Boeing listed on the website was $34 million, which was obligated in September 2019.

The cost-sharing arrangement between Boeing and DARPA required industry to fund part of the project. The financial obligations listed on the federal contracting website suggest more than $100 million in “non-governmental dollars” were included in Boeing’s work on the spaceplane program.

The Phantom Express vehicle and its upper stage were designed to place up to 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of payload into low Earth orbit, serving a market segment between the class of commercial small satellite launchers developed by companies like Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, and heavier boosters operated by SpaceX and United Launch Alliance.

According to a Boeing website, the Phantom Express spaceplane was to be about the size of a business jet, measuring about 100 feet (30.5 meters) long, with a height of 24 feet (7.3 meters), a diameter of 13.7 feet (4.1 meters), and a wing span of 62 feet (19 meters).

The Phantom Express was expected to lift off from a new launch complex to be constructed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Sized for small rockets, Launch Complex 48 is slated to be built between launch pad 39A at KSC and pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The spaceplane would have landed back at Cape Canaveral after sending its upper stage toward space, returning to runway landings at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility or the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Engineers test-fired an AR-22 engine 10 times in 10 days in mid-2018 to demonstrate the engines rapid turnaround capability for the Phantom Express vehicle. Assembled from leftover parts from the space shuttle program and NASA’s Space Launch System, the AR-22 engine ignited on a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center for the daily test-firings.

Boeing said in November 2018 that it had completed fabrication of a composite liquid oxygen cryotank for the Phantom Express spaceplane at the company’s Advanced Developmental Center in Tukwila, Washington.

The detailed engineering activities conducted under the Experimental Spaceplane Program affirmed that no technical showstoppers stand in the way of achieving DARPA’s objectives, and that a system such as XSP would bolster national security,” DARPA said in a statement. “Through XSP, DARPA identified evidence that present-day liquid rocket propulsion systems are capable of supporting XSP objectives.”

DARPA said the program yielded data on a liquid-fueled rocket vehicle configuration that could operate like an airplane, and on missions that could use a system like the Phantom Express. Other accomplishments included studies of the dynamics of deploying an upper stage carried into space with a spaceplane, and the design and fabrication of “linerless” composite tanks for cryogenic propellants.

The agency said it also developed a “concept roadmap” for different flight systems based on technology developed for the Experimental Spaceplane Program.

The Experimental Spaceplane Program is the second DARPA satellite launch initiative with Boeing as a partner that ended before a flight demonstration.

DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access, or ALASA, program was canceled in 2015. The ALASA effort — developed with Boeing as a prime contractor — intended to launch 100-pound (45-kilogram) satellites into orbit on a rocket fired from the belly of an F-15 fighter jet.

But DARPA canceled the program in 2015 after running into problems testing the rocket’s mix of nitrous oxide and acetylene fuel, a “monopropellant” cocktail that would have eliminated the need for the launcher to carry an oxidizer.


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/01/22/boeing-withdraws-from-darpa-spaceplane-program/

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Odp: [SFN] Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Luty 18, 2020, 08:25 »
DARPA Scraps Plan To Launch Small Sats from F-15 Fighter Jet
by Mike Gruss — November 30, 2015 [SN]


DARPA has scrapped plans to launch small satellites from a modified F-15 fighter jet after two tests of a new rocket fuel ended in explosions this year. Boeing is the prime contractor on the program (DARPA artist's concept).

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has scrapped plans to launch small satellites from a modified F-15 fighter jet after two tests of a new rocket fuel ended in explosions this year.

Instead DARPA will spend the next year studying how to harness the volatile nitrous oxide-acetylene propellant and, in parallel, modifications to existing small rockets that would enable the agency place small satellites on orbit on 24 hours notice at a cost of less than $1 million.

In March 2014, Boeing Defense Space and Security of Huntington Beach, California, won a contract potentially worth $104 million to build and demonstrate the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) system. The program was intended to demonstrate the capability to launch up to 45 kilograms of payload into low Earth orbit on short notice for as little as $1 million.

ALASA is one of a number of DARPA efforts to reduce the cost and turnaround time for launching national security satellites.

Boeing’s design featured a small expendable rocket launching from underneath a modified combat aircraft that would take off from a standard airport runway. Such a system would allow the Defense Department to launch from almost anywhere, DARPA said.

“The magic” in Boeing’s design, as DARPA officials described it, was the powerful nitrous oxide-acetylene propellant, also known as NA-7. The propellant would be “pre-mixed” to reduce the plumbing needed on the rocket, enabling it to carry more payload.

Boeing led two subsystem tests in Promontory, Utah – one in August and one in April – aimed at learning how the pre-mixed propellant reacted to different temperatures, pressures and atmospheric conditions. In both tests, the propellant exploded.

“It did not go as predicted,” Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s tactical technology office, said in a Nov. 23 interview.

The “finicky” nature of the propellant led DARPA officials to believe it is too risky to store on piloted aircraft, Tousley said.



DARPA is hoping it can take elements of its ALASA program, shown in the rendering above, to industry to improve how quickly the military can launch small satellites into low earth orbit. Credit: DARPA

As a result, DARPA has abandoned plans, described in the agency’s 2016 budget request, to conduct as many as a dozen ALASA test flights during the upcoming year.

“From a performance standpoint it’s still great but from a safety standpoint you have to work that out,” Tousley said. “As of present, we’ve stopped planning for any launches.”

The NA-7 propellant represents a classic problem for an agency whose mission is to pursue high-risk, high-payoff technologies for the Pentagon. These development efforts are taken on with the understanding that many, if not most, will fail.

Boeing, subcontractor Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, and DARPA nonetheless plan to continue developing the technology. A third propellant test is imminent.

“We hope to make it work,” said Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s tactical technology office. “Is all the proper handling of this affordable, reasonable operationally, especially under a manned aircraft? Maybe it turns out it’s better suited for a ground-launch mission.”

Additional tests also could help determine whether the propellant can be stored affordably, DARPA officials said.

Cheryl Sampson, a Boeing spokeswoman, said company executives were not available for an interview. In a Nov. 24 email, she said Boeing “has demonstrated and established procedures to mix, store, and transfer a significant amount of the nitrous oxide acetylene monopropellant safely and reliably. Each test in the plan assists us in gaining valuable information to assess the viability of the mix for use as a safe monopropellant.”

DARPA has begun studying ways to apply ALASA technologies, including an autonomous flight termination system and improved ground-to-rocket communications, to its goal of fielding a launcher able to deploy small satellites for less than $1 million on 24 hours’ notice.

One area to be examined is how DARPA might work with one or more of the companies that have emerged in recent years with plans to dramatically reduce the cost of launching small satellites.

“If the commercial small sat launch market can show rapid turnaround and affordable price points to orbit and we get a payload up on one of them, that might validate the goals of the program,” Tousley said.

ALASA is the latest in a series of DARPA efforts to develop low-cost, responsive satellite launchers to run aground. Others include the Responsive Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch and Force Application and Launch from Continental United States programs, neither of which made it to flight testing.

The agency continues to fund the Experimental Spaceplane-1, or XS-1, program aimed at developing a reusable first stage for a small satellite launcher that would have an expendable upper stage. Boeing, Masten Space Systems and Northrop Grumman studying concepts under that program.


Source: https://spacenews.com/darpa-airborne-launcher-effort-falters/

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Odp: [SFN] Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Luty 18, 2020, 08:27 »
DARPA selects Boeing for spaceplane project
by Jeff Foust — May 24, 2017 [SN]


Boeing will develop its Phantom Express reusable first stage for DARPA's XS-1 program, with a goal of performing 10 flights in 10 days and at least one flight to Mach 10. Credit: Boeing illustration

WASHINGTON — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced May 24 that it has picked Boeing to develop an experimental reusable first stage with the promise of lowering launch costs for medium-sized payloads.

Boeing will develop its “Phantom Express” vehicle for phases 2 and 3 of DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) program, which has the goal of performing 10 flights in 10 days to demonstrate responsive and low-cost launch. Phase 2 will cover development of the vehicle and ground tests though 2019, with a series of 12 to 15 test flights planned for phase 3 in 2020.

DARPA spokesman Rick Weiss said the value of the award to Boeing is $146 million. The award is structured as a public-private partnership, with Boeing also contributing to the overall cost of the program, but Boeing declined to disclose its contribution.

“As it’s a competitive market, we do not plan to disclose our investment,” Boeing Phantom Works spokeswoman Cheryl Sampson said. “We are making a significant commitment to help solve an enduring challenge to reduce the cost of space access.”

The Phantom Express vehicle will take off vertically, with an upper stage carrying a satellite payload mounted on top of the fuselage. After releasing the upper stage, the suborbital vehicle would glide back to a runway landing.

“Phantom Express is designed to disrupt and transform the satellite launch process as we know it today, creating a new, on-demand space launch capability that can be achieved more affordably and with less risk,” said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, in a company statement.

Phantom Express is powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne engine designated the AR-22, based on the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME). In a statement, Aerojet Rocketdyne said it is providing two such engines “with legacy shuttle flight experience” using parts from both the company’s and NASA inventories of earlier versions of the SSME. The engines will be assembled and tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

That engine represents an apparent switch in Boeing’s XS-1 concept. In phase 1 of the program, Boeing was partnered with Blue Origin, with the expectation Blue Origin would provide an engine for the spaceplane. “We selected the Aerojet Rocketdyne engine as it offers a flight proven, reusable engine to meet the DARPA mission requirements,” Sampson said.

DARPA announced the XS-1 program in 2013 as an effort to develop a reusable first stage that, coupled with an expendable upper stage, could lower the cost of launching payloads weighing up to 2,200 kilograms by an order of magnitude from the roughly $50 million the government pays for Minotaur 4 launches.

“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 XS-1 program manager, in an agency statement.

Sponable, in past discussions of the XS-1, noted the use of “spaceplane” in the program’s name was meant to describe the goal of aircraft-like operations, not the design of the vehicle itself.

In 2014, DARPA announced three phase 1 awards for initial studies of the XS-1 concepts. In addition to Boeing, DARPA provided awards to Masten Space Systems, working with XCOR Aerospace; and Northrop Grumman, working with Virgin Galactic.

DARPA issued a call for proposals in April 2016 for phases 2 and 3 of the program. Boeing, Masten and Northrop Grumman all submitted proposals for phase 2, but DARPA also allowed other companies to compete. DARPA did not disclose the number of proposals it received.

A key aspect of the program retained from its earlier days is a requirement to carry out 10 flights in 10 days. In phase 2, the vehicle will fire its engine in ground tests 10 times in as many days, with the 10 flights in 10 days, at speeds up to Mach 5, in phase 3.

Later test flights of the Phantom Express will go up to Mach 10, another original goal of the program. At least one test flight will carry an upper stage that would place a demonstration payload into orbit.

DARPA and Boeing recently worked together on another program that attempted to provide less expensive and more responsive space access. DARPA selected Boeing in March 2014 to develop a launch vehicle for its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program. The ALASA rocket, launched from an F-15 aircraft, was intended to place satellites weighing up to 45 kilograms into orbit for $1 million a launch, and do so on 24 hours’ notice.

ALASA suffered problems, though, linked to its use of an unconventional “mixed monopropellant” called NA7, a mixture of nitrous oxide and acetylene. Ground tests found that NA7 was less stable than expected and, in November 2015, DARPA changed the goals of ALASA to continue testing NA7, scrapping development of the launch vehicle.

DARPA, in its announcement of the XS-1 award, said that autonomous flight termination systems and related autonomous flight technologies developed as part of the ALASA program will be applied to Boeing’s Phantom Express vehicle.


Source: https://spacenews.com/darpa-selects-boeing-for-spaceplane-project/

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Odp: [SFN] Boeing backs out of DARPA spaceplane program
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Luty 18, 2020, 08:29 »
Boeing drops out of DARPA Experimental Spaceplane program
by Jeff Foust — January 22, 2020 [SN]


Boeing won a DARPA award in 2017 to develop its Phantom Express vehicle for the agency's Experimental Spaceplane (formerly XS-1) program, with a goal of making 10 flights in 10 days at speeds up to Mach 10. Credit: Boeing illustration

WASHINGTON — Boeing has decided to no longer continue development of an experimental suborbital spaceplane for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the latest setback for DARPA’s long-running efforts in space access.

In a Jan. 22 statement to SpaceNews, DARPA spokesman Jared Adams said that Boeing had notified the agency of its decision to exit the Experimental Spaceplane Program “immediately.” DARPA didn’t state why Boeing was dropping out of the program.

“Following a detailed review, Boeing is ending our role in the Experimental Spaceplane (XSP) program immediately,” Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling said. “We will now redirect our investment from XSP to other Boeing programs that span the sea, air and space domains.”

DARPA selected Boeing in May 2017 for Phases 2 and 3 of what was originally called the XS-1 program. Phase 2 covered the development of the vehicle, while Phase 3 called for up to 15 flight tests of the vehicle, then scheduled for 2020.

Boeing beat out Masten Space Systems and Northrop Grumman for that award, which DARPA valued at $146 million and with unspecified funding contributions by Boeing. All three companies received Phase 1 study contracts from DARPA in 2014.

Boeing’s concept, called Phantom Express, would take off vertically, powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine, a variant of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. The vehicle, 30 meters long and with a wingspan of 19 meters, would fly a suborbital trajectory at speeds up to Mach 10 before gliding to a runway landing. The vehicle was designed to carry an expendable upper stage for placing small satellites into orbit.

DARPA announced the XS-1 program in 2013 as a way of supporting the development of responsive, reusable launch vehicles. One major goal of the program was to perform 10 flights of the vehicle in 10 days, with at least one of those flights going to Mach 10, to demonstrate its rapid turnaround.

In July 2018, Aerojet Rocketdyne showed that its AR-22 engine was capable of such a high flight rate when he company performed 10 static-fire tests of the same engine in a 240-hour periodt. At the time, DARPA called that test series “a significant go/no-go milestone for us” to continue with the program. Neither DARPA nor Boeing, though, provided many updates on the status of the program after that series of tests.

DARPA cited that series of AR-22 engine tests as one of the major achievements of the program. “The detailed engineering activities conducted under the Experimental Spaceplane Program affirmed that no technical showstoppers stand in the way of achieving DARPA’s objectives, and that a system such as XSP would bolster national security,” Adams said. “Through XSP, DARPA identified evidence that present-day liquid rocket propulsion systems are capable of supporting XSP objectives, remain of interest, and may be explored in separate efforts.”

“We will make it a priority to harvest the significant learnings from this effort and apply them as Boeing continues to seek ways to provide future responsive, reusable access to space,” Drelling said.

Boeing’s decision, which effectively ends the XSP program, adds another chapter to DARPA’s history of unsuccessful launch vehicle development efforts. In the early 2000s, DARPA’s Responsive Access, Small Cargo, Affordable Launch (RASCAL) program supported initial development of an air-launch system using a high-speed aircraft by a small California startup, Space Launch Corp. DARPA terminated the RASCAL program in 2005 while that concept was still in its early design phases.

DARPA then embarked on Force Application and Launch from Continental U.S. (FALCON) program to develop both a hypersonic testbed vehicle and a small launch system. FALCON included study contracts to several companies, such as Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX. Another startup, AirLaunch LLC, proposed development of a small launch vehicle that would be deployed from a C-17 cargo aircraft, conducting a drop test to demonstrate the feasibility of their concept. DARPA, though, elected to focus the FALCON program on a hypersonic testbed.

Coincident with the XS-1 program was DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA), which sought to develop a small rocket that could be launched from a fighter with just 24 hours’ notice and for no more than $1 million. Boeing won a contract in 2014 to develop a rocket using an unusual “mixed monopropellant” of nitrous oxide and acetylene, called NA-7, that could be launched from an F-15.

However, DARPA ended plans to perform a flight demonstration with ALASA in November 2015 after discovering that NA-7 was too volatile to be safely handled. The agency did continue ground tests of some technologies related to the program.

More recently, DARPA shifted from funding specific systems to promoting industry innovation for responsive launch. The DARPA Launch Challenge, announced in 2018, offered a top prize of $10 million to the company able to perform two launches of a small launch vehicle from two different sites on short notice. DARPA announced last April it selected three finalists for the competition — Vector, Virgin Orbit and a “stealth” company — for launches then scheduled for early 2020.

However, Vector dropped out of the competition after suspending operations in August, and the company has since filed for bankruptcy protection. Virgin Orbit announced in October it would no longer participate in the competition, preferring instead to focus on upcoming launches for government and commercial customers. The company expects to perform a first launch of its LauncherOne system early this year.

DARPA plans to proceed with the competition with that single stealth competitor, widely believed to be a company that identifies itself as Astra Space in license applications with the Federal Aviation Administration. As of last October, DARPA said the first launch in the competition would take place in February, but the agency has not announced a formal date or location for that launch.


Source: https://spacenews.com/boeing-drops-out-of-darpa-experimental-spaceplane-program/