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Hypersonic Projects: Let us not forget the X-37

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posted on Sep, 5 2006 @ 01:58 PM
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As our collective attention has been fastened on the rapidly developing FALCON & RATTLRS hypersonic global strike programs - Let us not forget another program which has been progressing quietly at Boeing's Phantom Works and the Dryden facility.



Already brought to our attention a few times by other ATS posts, I think that this is a good time to bring up the history and progress of yet another hypersonic project.

The Boeing X-37 is planned to be a Mach 25 single stage to orbit space plane, intended to take off and land on a runway and is most likely a candidate for an orbital space plane/bomber. It is without a doubt that advanced propulsion technologies developed for FALCON & RATTLRS may eventually find their way to the X-37 program or an eventual offshoot of the program, although right now the basic "get it off the ground" concept seems to be for a rocket-powered plane.

Historically, the X-37 program was publicly put on hold by NASA in 2004 because the project "no longer fit NASA's long term agenda", and was even seen by the media and industry watchdogs as having ended by proof of extensive layoffs of project personnel.

However, that demise of the X-37 was apparently an incorrect assumption by the media and industry watchers and the X-37 project was actually transferred in the early weeks of 2004 from NASA/USAF and is now alive and well under the exclusive and classified umbrella of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
(Bear in mind, the X-37 project is not a "black" special access program, it is however an acknowledged classified program.)

There are 2 X-37 variants - the atmospheric drop test vehicle and the orbital test vehicle.
The first of which has to date accomplished 7 drop test-flights from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
The orbital vehicle is due to undergo tests on a shuttle flight at some as yet unspecified point in time.

The X-37A's "mothership" for atmospheric drop tests is the Scaled Composites "White Knight", carrier of the "SpaceShip One" X-Prize winner. Planning for flight tests started in early 2005 and the X-37 atmospheric test vehicle currently has undergone several flights docked to the "White Knight" mothership as well as one free glide flight. The first free glide flight took place in April 2006, and was a success but the landing experienced some unpleasant bumpiness which led to the test vehicle running off the runway and damaging the front landing gear.

Below, the X-37A is docked to the Rutan designed "White Knight"


Current status of either vehicle are unknown but what is known is that there is money being spent on extensive wind tunnel tests under the heading of the X-37 budget.

This is certainly worth more digging by ATS members and we should watch this program for further development.


Below, The X-37 atmospheric test vehicle being assembled



Related ATS Threads:

First Captive-Carry Flight for Darpa/Boeing X-37
: ATS Member Author: FredT

SCI/TECH: NASA Transfers X-37 to Unidentified U.S. Agency
: ATS Member Author: Zion Mainframe

NASA Transfers X-37 Project to D.A.R.P.A.
: ATS Member Author: Crazyhorse


External Sources:

Aviation Now

Wired Magazine



[edit on 9-5-2006 by intelgurl]




posted on Sep, 5 2006 @ 02:22 PM
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And digging it shall be!

X-37 - now theres a turn up for the books. This looks lik its going places on the sneaky side of life - Acknowledged but kept secret. Nice.

Thank you again for bringing up the most interesting subjects and projects Intel gurl.

All ATS'ers who love aviation and space should stand and give you a long hard round of applause.

Voted for a way above because every time you add an entry, we get a good solid gold thread.

[edit on 5-9-2006 by D4rk Kn1ght]



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 04:14 AM
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wonder if they will build a bigger version once all the testing is done, will be interesting to see how they build this x-37 into a bomber or a small satilite launch vehicle. When did the project start and have the goals of the project changed since it started till now? is it made of then same style of tiles that the spaceshuttle is outfitted with?



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 08:16 AM
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ill go with dark knight and i also applaud.though before the x-37.do not forget the first aircraft to break the sound barrier.the x-15.it had difficulty before reaching the sound barrier.though later the(arfter breaching the sound barrier)the plane flew smoothly



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 10:45 AM
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With reference to the original post, the X-37 Approach and landing Test Vehicle (ALTV) was not dropped from the CH-47 Chinook. That was the X-40, a subscale version of the X-37 shape.

The flight tally so far:

X-40: 1 drop from a UH-60 at Holloman AFB and 7 drops from a CH-47D at Edwards.

X-37 ALTV: 2 drops from the White Knight at Edwards.


Note to phsyco: The X-1 was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound. The X-15 was used to exceed Mach 4, 5, and 6.



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 11:33 AM
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[Note to phsyco: The X-1 was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound. The X-15 was used to exceed Mach 4, 5, and 6.

must have changed the 2 subjects some how.well guess you always cant rely on basic info.guess this means I was dead wrong.What the heck.people make mistakes we are humans.



posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 05:24 PM
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I am just wondering how they are going to launch X-37 into space. Originally considered Shuttle launch is after Columbia disaster impossible. Some time ago I read about Delta 2, but X-37 exceeded weight limits, so I assume some heavy carrier like Delta 4 or Atlas 5. And that are expensive birds....

Secondly - isnt X-37 in direct collision with another DARPA project - OSC X-42 RAST (Reusable Acces to Space Technology) program with almost the same goals? Also both demonstrators looks the same except X-42 has winglets and X-37 two vertical tails....



posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 10:45 AM
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Originally posted by matej
...isnt X-37 in direct collision with another DARPA project - OSC X-42 RAST (Reusable Acces to Space Technology) program with almost the same goals? Also both demonstrators looks the same except X-42 has winglets and X-37 two vertical tails....

Yes, you are right that there is redundancy and although there are a few differences in program parameters and goals - there should probably be a unification of various hypersonic programs.

Apparently the US Congress thinks so too, and as such they have issued a directive for NASA, DARPA and the USAF Research Lab to consolidate their hypersonic efforts or risk budget cuts. Congress has in fact suggested that a joint technology office be created to coordinate the research.

US hypersonic aircraft projects face change as Congress urges joint technology office; Flight International, June 2006



posted on Sep, 9 2006 @ 10:42 AM
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Firstly, thank you Intelgurl for your very informative posts.

While googling "htv-2" I found this :
www7.nationalacademies.org...
US Air Force "Aerospace Science and Technologies Update Nov 8th 2005"

check out pages 14,15,17 (page 16 blank) and 20,21,22

note on page 15 the green line that starts with SR-71, then XB-70 and continues to this date.
Also on page 17 an interesting drawing of RLV




[edit on 9-9-2006 by amused]



posted on Sep, 9 2006 @ 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by amused
note on page 15 the green line that starts with XB-70 and continues to this date.

I would be inclined to think that the green line indicates the SR-71's life span, since green on that chart indicates a production aircraft and the SR is right next to the XB-70 on the chart.



posted on Sep, 9 2006 @ 11:34 AM
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er well yes, but wouldn't the line stop at 1999 then?

[edit on 9-9-2006 by amused]



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