Boeing and DARPA are collaborating to design, build, and test a technology demonstration vehicle for the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane program. The Phantom Express would reinvent space missions for commercial and government customers by providing rapid, aircraft-like access to space. Within minutes, the autonomous, reusable spaceplane would launch its upper stage to deploy small satellites into low Earth orbit. It would then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight.
Tests of the spaceplane’s AR-22 Experimental Spaceplane Main Engine was successfully fired 10 times in just under 240 hours. The test is an early check for one of the plane’s most critical subsystems required to achieve aircraft-like operations.