Northrop Grumman’s aerospace division in Redondo Beach announced Tuesday it has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create a model of an experimental space plane.

The company will work with Scaled Composites in Mojave and Virgin Galactic on the model toward the goal of making space flight more affordable. The $3.9 million contract is for 13 months.

“Our team is uniquely qualified to meet Darpa's XS-1operational system goals, having built and transitioned many developmental systems to operational use, including our current work on the world's only commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo," Doug Young, vice president, missile defense and advanced missions, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said in a statement.

Northrop Grumman said a reusable booster, when coupled with an expendable upper stage, will lift a 3,000-pound class spacecraft into low Earth orbit.

Last month. Darpa announced prime contracts for initial design of the space plane to Northrop, Boeing and Masten Space Systems. Boeing will work with Blue Origin and Masten will work with Xcor Aerospace.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.