Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Northrop Grumman team developing space plane

Northrop Grumman team developing space plane

A preliminary design and flight demonstration plan for an experimental space plane with a reusable booster is being developed by Northrop Grumman.

The space plane, the XS-1, is envisaged for lifting 3,000-pound class spacecraft into low Earth orbit at a lower cost than current launch equipment. The plane would serve as a test-bed for a new generation of hypersonic aircraft.The work -- with team partners Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic -- comes under a 13-month phase one contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Northrop Grumman said a key program goal is to develop a system that could fly 10 times in 10 days using a minimal ground crew and infrastructure.

The system would utilize a transporter erector launcher. Minimal infrastructure and ground crew would be required for launch and recovery, and land like a normal aircraft on standard runways.