McDonald, a RLV News reader, tells us that NASA presented
several exhibits at Oshkosh 2000 and included some of the RLV
projects such as the [--Error [--Time
and [--Link Dead--]Hyper-X. Several
of the engineers working on these programs were available for
He was told
that the design for the X-33 aluminum tanks was completed and
the team was waiting for a go-ahead from NASA and Lockheed-Martin
to start cutting metal.
of the Fastrac engine was on the floor and headed for Stennis
after the show for firing tests.
for the hypersonic Hyer-X have been worked out and that the
first flight should likely happen this fall.
advances in thermal protection materials could lead to new vehicle
shapes and capabilites - [--Link
Dead--]Hot New Ceramics Make Tougher - Space.com - Oct.7.00
and Lockheed-Martin agree on X-33 plans... According
to the NASA
Press release, the project will finish all major sub-systems
by the end of this year except the hydrogen tanks. These tanks
will be changed to an all aluminum design from the previous
composite design that failed in tests.
test flights could occur by 2003.
will promise LockMart only one more payment of $68M. After that,
the company will have to compete for funds from the Space Launch
Initiative, assuming that initiative is approved by Congress.
tank problems delay X-33 - SpaceOnline - Sep.30.00 [Earlier
article - Shuttle
replacement may never fly - Space Online - Sep.24.00]
the latest Space
Access Update (Sep.26.00) discusses the NASA budget prospects
in Congress and the SAS's view towards the Space Launch Initiative
(SLI). Rather than tie all the money to NASA's own launch priorities,
SAS wants NASA to support US commercial launch needs with "multiple
smaller projects from both established and startup vendors rather
than via one or two megaprojects from the established major
aerospace firms. "...
publicity for Cerulean at SpaceDaily - For
A Cool Half Million You To Can Own Your Space Ship - SpaceDaily
- Sep.22.00 ...
starting to look at RLV development - China
To Develop New Generation of Rockets With View To Moon Landing
- SpaceDaily - Sep.00 ...
and news section has been completely revamped with several
sub-sections added that include a publications list and an extensive
photos page. The former includes a recent paper- K-1
SmallSat Missions (pdf) - presented at the Utah State SmallSat
Conference held in August. The photos section gives images and
descriptions of the major sub-systems comprising the K-1.
and other pages don't seem to have changed significantly yet.
Dual-Engine tests to start in December.
While attention has been focused on the failure of the composite
hydrogen tanks and the resulting funding battles and flight
test delays, the development of the groundbreaking aerospike
engines has been going very well. The single aerospike engine
tests were completed successfully last Spring after accumulating
1500 secs of burn time, equivalent to about "seven X-33
Now the test
site at Stennis is being modified to hold two engines that will
work in tandem just as they would on the test vehicle. This
includes tests of the differential thrusts between the engines
to guide the vehicle's direction.
Cerulean Freight gets
some publicity for it's Kitten vehicle at Ananova
- DIY spaceship comes in a kit ... Earlier report describes
Cerulean's entry into the X-Prize contest - [--Link
Dead--]A 19th team joined the X-Prize race - Space.com - Aug.15.00.
obtains funds to launch in early 2002 according to
a report from Australia where the company will use the Woomera
launch range. Curt Johnston, Kistler's flight operations director,
said that they company has reached it's $900 million funding
goal that will allow them to complete construction of the K-1
two stage RLV and do three test flights.
$400 million funding should be finalized by the end of the year
and the first flight will occur about 1 year after the cash
Sees 2002 Lift-Off for New Satellite System - Reuters/Yahoo
News - Sept.6.00
Access Update #95 08/27/00
gives a nice
status report on several RLV startups such as Kelly, Kistler,
Rotrary, etc. All are still surviving on small grants during
this time of a small satellite LEO market retrenchment due to
the Iridium failure.
The main thrust
of the update, however, is the lobbying strategy with Congress
over NASA's budget for it's RLV programs. The Space Launch Initiative,
in particular, is seen as trying to force a combined commercial
RLV and a shuttle replacement design that will most likely result
in a vehicle that does neither well. So the SAS
will campaign to delete funding for SLI.
include discussions of the X-33 and X-34 delays and problems
with the Fastrac engine development.
funds Alternative Access to ISS studies.
Marshall Spaceflight Center has announced
that it has awarded Andrews
Space & Technology (a space consultancy group), HMX
(the propulsion company which worked on prototype systems for
Kistler and Rotary Rocket), Microcosm
(developing the very low cost Scorpius expendables), and Kistler
Aerospace (see below).
access by new vehicles developed by private launch companies
has been a theme pushed by space activist groups such as ProSpace.
to Fund Studies of Alternate Space Station Access - SpaceViews
- Aug.24.00 *
NASA will fund four short-term studies by emerging launch vehicle
and aerospace companies of alternate access to the ISS - Space.com
gets NASA grant to study K-1 for ISS access.
Kistler [--Link Dead--]announced today
that it has received an award from NASA for a 3 month study
as part of NASA's look at "alternative access" to
the International Space Station.
develop and submit to NASA a detailed roadmap showing how the
K-1 can become a viable choice to meet NASA’s ISS contingency
says nothing about Kistler's development schedule but does say
that a "fleet of five vehicles is planned to support launch
rates of one per week."
payload guide is available now in both PDF add HTML.
flights may be delayed by up to two years according
As indicated in earlier RLV
News reports, the X-34 program has been undergoing a re-structuring
to avoid unpleasant surprises like the failed Mars probes last
year and the X-33 hydrogen tank destruction. While these reports
indicated a delay in the first test flight of a few months,
it now appears the delay will be much longer. Far more extensive
ground testing of the propulsion system has been recommended
as well as improvements in the avionics.
tank failure report finally released. Completed last
Spring, the report from the team investigating the test failure
of the composite hydrogen tank was delayed apparently by a dispute
between NASA and Lockheed-Martin over funds to continue the
project. Major problems cited include poor communication among
the groups working on the tank and not taking a slower, more
incremental approach to its development.
Design Approach Faulted In X-33 Tank Failure - AviationNow -
Aug.10.00 * [--Error--]X-33 Tank
Failure Delays First Flight By Two Years - AviationNow - Aug.10.00
Program Marching on Despite Fuel Tank Failure - Space.com -
Aug.10.00 * X-33
Tank Failure Report Released - SpaceViews - Aug.12.00
[--Link Dead--]Liftoff in doubt for heir to Shuttle - Orlando
Sentinel - Aug.20.00
Investigation Team Final Report (PDF)
which employs several former Rotary Rocket engine designers,
have updated their web site. It includes more info on their
X-1 and Me163 Komet II replica projects...Kistler Aerospace
made a recent minor update of their [--Link
Dead--]schedule page. First flights are now indicated
to occur in 2001...Space Online's editorial in support of X-33
X-33, VentureStar despite problems, setbacks.
unmanned re-usable test vehicle project has been
put on hold due to continuing problems in Japan's
space program. The vehicle is intended to be launched
atop the expendable H-IIA and then return to earth via a gliding
landing with its lifting body design. But continuing problems
with the H-IIA development has made the Hope-X launch in 2004
untenable. The Hope-X was already a scaled down version of the
manned Hope RLV -
Japan freezes plans for unmanned space shuttle - CNN.com - August
2, 2000, Japan
shelves space shuttle plans - Florida Today Space Online - Aug.2.00
round of pre-flight tests begins for X-34 rocket plane - SpaceflightNow
- July.26.00, X-34
Program Resumes Tests -
SpaceViews - July.26.00 [Engineers
are testing the X 34 runways at NASA's Dryden Flight Research
Center - Space.com - Aug.5.00]...Web sites are back in busines
for two RLV sites that were down for several weeks. TGV,
which is developing a reusable suborbital vehicle, and Dynamica
Research, now Lone Star
Space Access, which is developing a vehicle
for the X-Prize, are now online again.
Leaves Texas for California's High Desert - Space.com - July.11.00...
Canadian team joins race for the X-Prize; plans to launch rocket
from the world’s largest hot-air balloon - Space.com - July.17.00
Blasts Ahead of Competition for X PRIZE - Space.com - July.10.00
My wife and I are moving to Maryland from Stockholm tomorrow.
So this page will be updated intermittently at best for the
next month or so until we get settled and I get back on-line.
Please continue to check back occasionally and let
me know if you have suggestions and/or criticisms about
this page. -
composite liquid oxygen tank launched on a suborbital
rocket in a joint program of Microcosm,
Garvey Spacecraft, and the amateur group Reaction
Research Society. Space News July 3 reports on the successful
development of a tank whose lining resists the destructive effects
of oxidation of the graphite epoxy materials.
formerly of McDonnell Douglas and the DC-X program, started
his own company in January to develop composite LOX tanks. He
decided to collaborate with Microcosm, which had made progress
with its own LOX composite tank efforts. With the help of volunteers
from RRC, the collaboration was able to integrate 10inch composite
tanks into the K-4 suborbital rocket in just 4 months.
plans to use composite LOX tanks on a second generation Scorpius
vehicle in 2001.
Rotary Rocket also has developed composite
Space Launch Intitiative begins to draw attention.
The Boston Globe has an interesting article about NASA's
Space Launch Intitiative, which with little outside discussion
is starting $4.4 billion plan in the next five years to develop
various propulsion and RLV technologies.
article reports on criticism from the Space
Access Society and others that the program will undercut
support for commerical startup RLV companies.
For example, if a RLV startup proposed to develop a small crew
transfer vehicle for the space station it would have little
chance of getting funding since NASA is already planning to
fund its own vehicles within the SLI scope, e.g. the proposed
$1 billion Orbital Sciences space
Dead--]Critics fire at new NASA rocket effort -Boston Globe
will not need to install
additional cooling. Space News July 3 issue reports
that the program has determined that the current materials and
cooling system can handle the expected maximum of 3727degrees
Celsius heating of the airframe at Mach 10. Tests of the current
thermal system show that the hafnium and zirconium alloys survived
these temperatures without problems.
tests this October and next February will be at Mach 7 and shouldn't
have any problem with heating. The final scheduled third test
in 2002 will hit Mach 10 and there was some worry that some
extra develop would be needed for the airframe to survive such
Activists see the above LOX composite tank development as the
kind of fast, low cost, successful technology efforts that NASA
is unwilling to acknowledge is possible by small independent
startups. Such a project within NASA's SLI would typically cost
several times more than spent by this collaboration.
On the other
hand, the Hyper-X thermal protection systems is exactly the
kind of fundamental techology development that NASA engineers
do so well. Only NASA has the talent, facilities and money to
carry out such difficult experiments. Commercial companies will
certainly take advantage of this kind of technology.]
Week reports that NASA is seeking payloads to fly on the two
orbital missions of the X-37.
The vehicle will ride in the payload bay of a Shuttle and then
be released in orbit for re-entry and landing.
The missions are expected
in the 2002-2003 time frame. [--Error--]NASA
Seeks Payloads for X-37- AviationNow - June.29.00