Hydrogen Tank fails in test. Tank #2 had recently
been repaired after earlier tests showed several small leaks.
The tests resumed this week with the tank filled to flight load
and subjected with hydraulic jacks to presures similar to those
expected during launch. After the test was finished and the
tank was being safed for the night, workers notice a damaged
region. Exact details of the problem has not been released.
with delamination of the composite layers caused several months
delay in the program.
Article: X-33 Hydrogen Tank Damaged in Tests - Nov.5.99
* [--Link Dead--]SpaceToday: X-33 liquid hydrogen tank damaged
during tests - Nov.4.99 * [--Link Dead--]Space.com X-33
Fuel Tank Damaged - Nov.4.99
vehicle has been delievered by Microcraft to NASA.
Release . After dropping from a B-52, the X-43A vehicle
will be given a 1st stage kick by an Orbital Pegasus booster
and then will use a hydrogen-powered scramjet to reach speeds
as high as Mach 10. Three vehicles will be built. The first
2 will go to Mach 7 and the third to Mach 10. The vehicles will
be lost in the Pacific but instrumentation telemetry will provide
the data on the engine and other new technology in this new
flight regime. First flight is scheduled for May 2000
Activity - Beyond 2000 - Nov.9.99
briefs..See NASA's new Highway2Space.com
site for information and links about NASA's RLV and other advanced
space transportation developments...
The X-33 aerospike
engine has completed the 5 sec startup tests. Next will be a
Access Society reports from the Congressional budget wars
that they succeeded in obtaining funds for the Air Force's SMV
(Space Maneuver Vehicle), a reusable upper stage. However, the
$100M that had been expected to go for generic RLV development
at NASA was instead diverted to the [--Link
Dead--]Spaceliner 100 project and none for the [--Link
third X-33 aerospike engine test occurred
this week. The 5 sec startup test at 80% full thrust apparently
went successfully according to Aviation Week.
test of the hydrogen tanks are underway after a several weeks
break to repair several leaks.
NASA is discussing a follow-on vehicle called the X-33B
that would have lighter thermal protection and other improvements.
(See [--Link Dead--]Space.com article - Sept.27.99.)
interest in Rotary's recent flight
has encouraged them to add more information about the flight.
Besides several videos, a pilots
report of the flight is now posted on their What's
of talking at NASA and Congress about future transportation
Space committee had a hearing this week to discuss the results
of NASA's Space Transportation Architecture Studies: The
Future of Earth-to-Orbit Spaceflight - October 27, 1999 .
NASA presented the various possible
upgrades to the Shuttle for improved safety and performance.
routes to replacement vehicles for the Shuttle were discussed.
Griffin , for example, of Orbital Sciences discussed their
Space Taxi vehicle (as the CCTV - Crew/Cargo Transfer
Vehicle) that could take astronauts as well as cargo to the
Space Station. It is bascially a resusable upperstage similar
to the X-38 that could also serve as the stations crew rescue
hearing via [--Link Dead--]RealMedia stream.
presentation of NASA space transportation plans took place at
Marshall Spaceflight Center. The various X programs were discussed
and how soon they might lead to a shuttle replacement. Basically,
NASA wants to spend another 5 years investigating RLV technologies
before committing to a particular RLV design.
For more info
Article: Decision on Shuttle Replacement Years Away Nov.1.99
NASA delays plans to replace shuttle - Space Chronicle - Oct.
The Future of Space is Unveiled in Alabama - Space.com - Oct.28.99
* [--Link Dead--] Bold steps for space travel are on horizon
- Huntsville Times - Oct. 28.99 *
Space Transportation Architecture Studies: Future of Earth-to-Orbit
Spaceflight - NASA Watch - Oct. 27.99 .
briefs..The Cosmos Mariner X-Prize vehicle is making
progress. See their latest design...
publishes an [--Link Dead--]4 part report on the future
of the Space Shuttle, [--Link Dead--]NASA X-vehicles,
and the [--Link Dead--]private RLV efforts. Also, a video
(Realmedia) report "Our future in space" available for [--Link
Dead--]high and [--Error--]low
Models sub-section for links to information on scale models
of the various RLV vehicles in development.
first two X-33 aerospike engine tests have
been carried out according to the X-33
Timeline . The short 5 sec "ignition tests" exercise
the start sequence and initial turn on of the engine. Six such
tests are planned before proceeding to a second set of tests
that fire the engines for up to 250secs. Finnally, full flight
duration tests of 1142 secs will be carried out. See the recent
[--Error [--Time Out--]--]status report
for more on the engine test plans.
tank leaks have been fixed although there were apparently some
inner lining delamination problems that are worrying the Skunk
VentureStar design shown at Space.com.
As discussed here in an earlier report ,
the payload bay for the VentureStar has been removed from the
interior center of the vehicle. Instead, separate payload structures
will be attached to its back. These could be a simple cargo
vessel or even the Space Staion Crew Rescue vehicle. See the
Space.com story for an image and more details. [--Link Dead--]Exclusive:
New Look for Venturestar - Space.com-Oct.22.099.
briefs..More on the recent Rotary ATV tests at [--Link
Dead--]Space.com - Roton Tester Flies Down the Desert and
Article: Roton ATV Completes Third Test Flight ... If you
have a fast link, watch the long videos of the test now available
from [--Link Dead--]Rotary video page...The
the Space Shuttle - National Academy of Sciences Report
discusses options such as the fly-back booster for extending
the lifetime of the Shuttle and lowering its operating costs.
ATV vehicle makes 3rd flight.
During Gary Hudson's testimony to Congress this week (see below),
he showed videos of the most recent flight of the ATV. Instead
of just a short hop or a steady hoover as in the previous tests,
the vehicle this time moved for considerable horizontal distances
along the airport. We hope they soon post videos and photos
on their website. [Oct.16 Rotary has now posted a press
release about the latest flight and they provide videos
and photos - What's
Hot . The vehicle flew for 3min and 47secs for nearly a
mile at up to 50mph and 75ft altitude.]
startups testified to House Subcommittee on Space
& Aeronautics about their status and the challenges they
face.The House space committee hearings
archive has posted the statements made at the Oct. 13 session
from the Chairman Dana
Rohrabacher and representatives from
Access . [There is also a link to a [--Link
Dead--]RealMedia file of the hearing.]
discussed primarily the difficulties they are having with raising
capital, especially after the Iridium & ICO bankruptcies.
They did not request direct subsidies but suggested various
ways the government could support them such as tax breaks for
investors, minimzation of regulations, NASA technical support
and encouragement. Or, at least, that NASA should not discourage
investors who seek out NASA advice on the viability of the startups.
See more in
Space.com's report New
Launch Companies Ask for Help, Still Bullish on Future .
[Oct.22 . SpaceViews
Article: RLV Companies Look for Government Support ]
makes progress but still short of funds...Marcus
Lindroos reports from the recent IAF (Int. Aeronautics Federation)
symposium in Amsterdam on Kistler K-1 status. He says that the
Kistler payload manager, Debra Factor Lepore, claims that the
vehicle is 80% complete and could launch in 2000 if funding
is found. They are still in negotiations with Saudi investors
who were mentioned earlier
by Aviation Week. Read more in Marcus's message
Marcus's new site on
RLV developments in Europe .
for reusable space tugs and fly-back boosters at
the IAF were heard, as well, according to Aviation Week (Oct.11,1999,
pp.36-38.) The tugs would be a simpler version of the [--Link
Dead--]ATV (automated transfer vehicle) being developed
for the ISS by Aerospatile Matra.
is also talking about a Space Taxi that could ferry either
people or cargo to ISS. It would initially mate to an EELV but
later to a spin off of Orbitals reusable X-38.
DLR research center is studying a flyback booster for a semi-reusable
version of the Ariane 5.
and US Aerojet are working on a RD-0120 engine aimed for reusable
launchers. They hope that the engines could eventually go up
to 100 missions before overhauls.
Khrunichev is looking at a liquid fly-back booster for its Angara
engine and hydrogen tank tests continue. As of Oct.1
the first engine had still not been test fired due to chasing
down some hydrogen leaks. Similarly, during the tank test at
full flight load some facility leaks were found and are being
fixed. Other components such as the thermal protection panels,
and GPS system have been delivered. - X-33
History Timeline - July-Dec.1999
briefs...NASA will hold a one day symposium
to discuss its many new RLV and advanced propulsion projects:
[--Link Dead--]Space Transportation Day'99.
briefs...See the interesting article on the status
of the X-33 and the challenges of funding the VentureStart in
VentureStar Puzzle Makes X-33 Look Easy - Aviation Week Space
Business Oct.1.9 .... The X-34 captive carry flights have
been completed for this year. (Odd that there was no publicity
prior to the flights after the first one.) See SpaceViews
Article: X-34 Completes Test Flights for Year
development reaches crucial testing stage.
The engines and hydrogen tank began tests this week. Success
will mean a roll-out in early 2000 and flight tests during the
summer. Difficulties could result in delays of flights till
2001. See status report at [--Error
[--Time Out--]--]VentureStar . Mission Updates . Press Releases
hearing on the status of X-33/VentureStar took place
this week at Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee in the House
Oct. 16. The hearing can be viewed via RealMedia file from the
space subcommittee's hearing
archive - [--Link Dead--]NASA’s X-33
Program - September 29, 1999]
Watch has posted the statements from the NASA & Lockhee-Martin
the program against charges in a recent GAO report of delays
and costs overruns.
an overview of the program status. He said the weight growth
was primarily due to the fast pace of the program that didn't
allow time for optimizing the design. The resulting Mach 13.8
speed instead of the original Mach 15, however, is not a major
setback and will, in fact, result in harsher tests for the thermal
Li also discussed
the delays and overruns and also how a decision to develop VentureStar
would affect the International Space Station. Interesting comments