DARPA's XSP suborbital plane project scrapped after Boeing withdrawal

On January 22, Boeing announced its decision to stop participating in the Experimental Spaceplane program (XSP or XS-1) led by DARPA, the US defense R&D agency. A withdrawal which purely and simply marks the end of this program, since Boeing was the prime contractor. If the announcement seems almost anecdotal in the midst of the setbacks that the American aircraft manufacturer is currently experiencing, it is however a new blow for the American space sector which is definitely struggling to give life to automated space shuttles, particularly in the military sector.

It must be said that the XS-1 program, subsequently redesignated XSP, was not the first attempt by the Pentagon and DARPA. We remember in particular the Rockwell X-30 conducted in the 1980s and abandoned in 1993 before the first flight of the prototype. Even more emblematic, the X-33 VentureStar and the X-34 from Orbital Sciences mobilized numerous efforts on the part of manufacturers, DARPA and Nasa until funding stopped in 2001. In the process, DARPA then attempted to launch RASCAL, a hypersonic device intended to launch a mini-rocket carrying satellites.

Boeing's Phantom Express would have had to carry a light launcher on its back, allowing the rapid and low-cost deployment of a light satellite into low orbit

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