DARPA looking for a shuttle replacement

With the shuttle retired and funding for the Orion killed back in 2009, the US is currently without a way to get people into space or a relatively cheap way to get payloads into orbit.

DARPA has apparently decided not to wait for NASA, and has called for commercial companies to propose candidates for their XS-1 space plane.

DARPA’s key technical goals for the XS-1 include flying 10 times in 10 days, flying to Mach 10+ at least once and launching a representative small payload to orbit. The program also seeks to reduce the cost of access to space for 3,000- to 5,000-pound payloads to less than $5 million per flight.

Having this capability will fill a hole in LEO access left by NASA policy and budget constraints.