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X-34 STATUS

InvisibleDefender

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The two X-34s which have been in storage at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center since the hypersonic spaceflight programme was cancelled in 2001 were moved overnight on 16 November to a hangar owned by the National Test Pilot school in Mojave, California to be inspected by Orbital Sciences Corp for a possible return to flying status, the agency says. Orbital will reportedly determine whether the X-34s are still viable as technology demonstrators for reusable space vehicles.

From a NASA fact sheet on the X-34: (http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-060-DFRC.html)

“A joint NASA/Orbital Sciences Corporation review of the project in 2000 revealed the need to redefine the project's approach, scope, budget and schedule. Among risks identified were inadequate system testing, single-string avionics, and the lack of auto-land validation. To ensure safety and mission success of the X-34 would have required increased government technical insight, hardware testing and integrated systems assessments.

As a result, the projected cost of completing the X-34 program at an acceptable level of risk rose significantly above the planned budget. NASA determined that the benefits to be derived from continuing the X-34 program did not justify the cost, and that Space Launch Initiative (SLI) funds should be applied to higher priority needs.

In March 2001 NASA announced that no funds for the X-34 program under the SLI would be provided, and the cooperative agreement between NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., for the X-34 program expired on March 31, 2001. The two completed X-34s and components for the third vehicle were transferred in 2002 to the U.S. Air Force and placed in long-term storage pending use for potential future testing or display at the Edwards Air Force Base museum.”
 

quellish

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The photo of the X-34 in the hangar is from when both vehicles were stored in a hangar at North Base. Last year another program needed the space, and the two vehicles were towed out to the Edwards precision impact range. Early this year they were moved to a location on the east side of the lakebed. Both were exposed to the elements for more than a year, during which they were hit by several bad storms. Spares and components for the two vehicles were moved to surplus or scrapped. The components for the third vehicle had been stored in a shipping container, the shipping container was needed by someone else and the components were dumped on a North Base ramp, where they still are.

It would probably take a lot to make these flyable.
 

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Matej

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The aviation and space press buzzed last week with the news that NASA had quietly moved its two long-grounded X-34 space planes from open storage at the space agency’s Dryden center — located on Edwards Air Force Base in California — to a test pilot school in the Mojave Desert. At the desert facility, the mid-’90s-vintage, robotic X-34s would be inspected to determine if they were capable of flying again.
 

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Matej

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Northrop Grumman (NG) X-34 Concept

Although this vehicle design concept was not formally submitted in the X-34
program competition, it is an interesting design and could have value as a TSTO
air launched military TAV. This vehicle would be launched from on top of a
NASA B-747 SCA and deliver a 1-6 klb payload to LEO. The B-747 launch
platform would transfer LOX and LH2 fuels to the orbital vehicle.

The orbital vehicle would resemble a scaled-down space shuttle and would have
its aerodynamic characteristics. It would have a GLOW of about 180,000 lb and a
cross-range capability of 1100 nm. The fully loaded orbital vehicle would have a
higher wing loading than an empty shuttle. Consequently, care must be taken to
guarantee positive vehicle separation and to provide adequate clearance from the
aircraft during the staging maneuver. The contractor has indicated that vehicle
drag may be reduced relative to the shuttle by 20 percent, making this maneuver
easier to execute. This reduction in drag would need to be confirmed using
computational fluid dynamics.

The vehicle would use two D-57 Russian engines, which have been licensed from
the Russians by Aerojet. These engines are fully throttleable and could run with
a smaller nozzle (88 in. versus 143 in.) than originally designed. The two engines
would produce 88 klb of thrust each. The Russian engine manufacturer has built
105 engines and Phillips Lab has performed over 53,000 seconds of engine
testing. Given the performance of the D-57 engine, Northrop Grumman has estimated
an orbital vehicle payload delivery capability of 1,000 to 3,500 lb to polar orbit and
3,000 to 6,000 lb to an easterly orbit. These payload weights carry no margins.

The technology risks identified by Northrop Grumman at the RAND workshop
were structural weight uncertainty, TPS weight and performance, safe vehicle
separation from the 747, and Aerojet capability to produce the Russian engines.
The TPS materials used would be different from the materials used on the
shuttle. The new materials would have an average density of .5 lb/sq ft. A
major concern is further reduction in TPS weight.

Other options for this vehicle concept are to configure the orbital vehicle for a
two-person crew or to develop a modified vehicle that would be capable of using
high-density propellants and of executing an independent ground take-off, aerial
refueling, and ascent to orbit mission profile.

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR890/MR890.chap3.pdf
 

quellish

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seruriermarshal said:
Here a X-34 with other test aircraft


One was moved back to Edwards? Last I heard both were still at Mojave
 

Whisperstream

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X-34 number one has been back at NASA Armstrong (formerly Dryden) Flight Research Center for some time. It is in outdoor storage in Area A (the "Shuttle Area").
 

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