X-37 SCHEDULED FOR JUNE ROLLOUT.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
PALMDALE - A pilotless experimental craft being built by Boeing as part of NASA's effort to create a new manned spacecraft This is a list of manned spacecraft (including space stations) sorted by manufacturer/operator and series in chronological order. Operational spacecraft
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Slightly over 27 feet long, the winged, computer-controlled X-37 will be carried aloft by a modified B-52 and dropped at altitudes of up to 40,000 feet in tests slated to begin in November 2004 at Edwards Air Force Base Edwards Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 301,000 acres (121,805 hectares), S Calif., NE of Lancaster; est. 1933. It is one of the largest air force bases in the United States and has the world's longest runway. .
``The next milestone is in February when the vehicle goes through systems checks,'' said Drew Hays, who manages Boeing's strategic development of space launch systems.
The X-37 aircraft is being assembled at Boeing's plant at U.S. Air Force Plant 42. A second X-37, equipped to fly in space, is due to be launched in 2006.
The X-37s are being built to test technologies for the orbital space plane The Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program was designed to support the International Space Station requirements for crew rescue, crew transport and contingency cargo such as supplies, food and other needed equipment. , a proposed manned spacecraft that will augment the nation's space shuttle space shuttle, reusable U.S. space vehicle. Developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it consists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and an external tank. fleet. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), civilian agency of the U.S. federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration, artificial satellites (see satellite, artificial), hopes to start using the orbital space plane in 2008 for returning astronauts from the space station.
The X-37 initially was funded under a 1999 $173 million contract with the costs being shared by NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. , Boeing and the Air Force. The Air Force later dropped out of the program.
In November, NASA awarded a $301 million contract to Boeing's Phantom Works division to continue the construction of the first craft and to develop the second.
The first X-37 is planned to make five flights to test technologies needed for landing a new spacecraft.
The second X-37 is designed to be able to stay in orbit for as long as nine months and will test systems for an automatic rendezvous with the International Space Station or with other spacecraft. The second X-37 would also be able to test equipment for weather and atmosphere observation.
Boeing is looking at the possibility of using a larger version of the X-37 as its entry in the orbital space plane competition. The company is also looking at an Apollo-like space capsule to meet the orbital space plane goals.
Boeing's orbital space plane competitor, a team led by Lockheed Martin For the former company, see .
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a leading multinational aerospace manufacturer and advanced technology company formed in 1995 by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta. , is looking at concepts for winged space craft and space capsules. Lockheed Martin is also looking at a wingless design concept known as a lifting body, said company spokeswoman Julie Andrews.
Sometime this month, NASA will issue a request for proposals to the two companies for the development of the orbital space plane. NASA officials plan to select one contractor in August to develop the spacecraft.
Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743