Aug 26 2014

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DARPA should offer XS-1 as a competition prize

See, I think DARPA should change this to a Challenge prize, not a contract competition.

Take the $20 million or so that DARPA will eventually award for the XS-1 concept and offer it as a Challenge Prize instead, open to any and all teams. Here’s the primary mission goal of the XS-1:

DARPA wants the XS-1 to make spaceflight much more routine and affordable. The reusable vehicle should be able to fly 10 times in a 10-day span and launch 3,000- to 5,000-lb. payloads to orbit for less than $5 million per flight, officials have said.

Doesn’t that sound like a Challenge goal? Why does it make sense to offer exploratory contracts that ultimately won’t produce a product? The monetary reward and very real prestige of winning a Challenge, like Google’s Lunar XPrize, would be enough to have dozens of competitors racing for the prize?

Northrup Grumman’s team includes Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic. Here’s their concept of XS-1:
XS-1 by Northrup Grumman

Other teams are

  • Masten Space Systems with XCOR Aerospace
  • Boeing with Blue Origin

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/08/26/darpa-should-offer-xs-1-as-a-competition-prize/

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