Test 476: Rockwell X-33

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Back Arrow.jpg Back to Additional Photos for 16-Foot Transonic Tunnel Ordered by Tunnel Test Log

Test 476 was conducted during 25 hours of wind-on testing on a 0.01 scale model of the Rockwell X-33 Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) configuration during 3/29/1996 to 4/8/1996. The test objective was to establish a transonic aerodynamic data base for the Rockwell SSTO concept. Specifically, the objectives were to longitudinal, lateral-directional, and control effectiveness aerodynamic data at subsonic/transonic speeds, obtain aerodynamic loads data on the wing and tail (including flap, elevon and rudder hinge moments) and finally to conduct a preliminary evaluation of pressure sensitive paint to assess suitability for use in future testing. The test was part of Rockwell's involvement in Phase I of the Reusable Lanuch Vehicle (RLV) Program. Phase I was the concept and development process leading to a subscale version of the (X-33) RLV during Phase II.

This test was part of a series of investigations late in the life of the 16-Foot Transonic Tunnel on a variety of space vehicles that included the X-33 (Tests 474, 476, 490, 499, 500, and 504), X-34 (Tests 491 and 517), X-38 (Tests 495, 509, 529, and 538), X-40 (Test 515), X-43 (Tests 520, 536, 558, 559, 568, 584, and 586), Next Generation Launch Technology (NGLT) Program, and and the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program (Tests 580 and 582).

The Rockwell X-33 was an unmanned, sub-scale technology demonstrator suborbital spaceplane developed during the U.S. government-funded Space Launch Initiative Program initiated by NASA in 1994. The goal of the program was to demonstrate technologies leading to a new generation of space boosters capable of delivering payloads at significantly lower cost and provide a technology base for development of advanced commercial launch systems that will make U.S. aerospace manufacturers more competitive in the global market. Proposals for the X-33 included designs from Rockwell, Lockheed Martin, and McDonnell Douglas. The X-33 contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in 1996 and one billion dollars were spent through 1999 with about a 80%/20% funding split between NASA/Lockheed. The goal was to have a first flight by 1999 and an operating space vehicle by 2005. However, the X-33 program was cancelled in early 2001 after carbon composite hydrogen fuel tank failed during proof of concept testing.

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