The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Masten Space Systems around $19.5 million in contract funds to continue building prototype robotic spaceplanes, Space.com reported Friday.
Mike Wall writes the three companies moved into phase 1B of the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane-1 development initiative.
Boeing and Northrop received $4 million each and Masten secured $3 million from DARPA during summer 2014 under the XS-1 design phase, according to Space.com.
The program’s goal is to build a reusable unmanned launch vehicle that would fly up to 10 times in 10 days and carry as much as 5,000 pounds of payload into space for not more than $5 million per mission.
Boeing partnered with Blue Origin, Northrop with Virgin Galactic and Masten Space Systems with XCOR Aerospace for the XS-1 project.
DARPA aims to launch the XS-1 spaceplane’s initial orbital mission as early as 2018.