Boeing has awarded the University of South Carolina a $5 million grant for aerospace technology research.
The research grant, announced Aug. 6, will cover work at McNair Aerospace Center on the university’s campus in Columbia, S.C. The center is named for South Carolina native and astronaut Ronald McNair, who died in the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.
The grant marks the first collaboration between the school and Boeing.
Earlier this week, Boeing itself was the recipient of a $6.6 million research funding, when the Pentagon awarded the aerospace company a contract to design a reusable “spaceplane” capable of launching military satellites and space-based weaponry.
Boeing has one year to design the craft, dubbed the XS-1, and the Pentagon is targeting 2019 for launch of a prototype. Most of the work will be performed at a Boeing facility in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Spaceplanes can be piloted or unmanned. The XS-1 — or Xperimental Spaceplane 1 — would be robotic.
Currently, the military must use pricey rocket launches to get its satellites into orbit. Some say using a space plane—capable of flying to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere before releasing a satellite into orbit—could cut costs from tens of millions of dollars currently to as little as $5 million per mission.
The contract first was disclosed Aug. 3.