X-33 Stays Cool In Early Development Stage
News story originally written on February 5, 1999
Engineers have finished testing the thermal shields for the X-33, a
prototype of a single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle. The thermal
shields passed a series of intensive tests that included time in a
high-speed, high temperature wind tunnel and actual flights strapped to
the bottom of an F-15.
"By developing and proving these systems, we're creating the ability to
build space planes that eventually will fly to orbit, return for
servicing, and launch again as often as today's commercial airplanes make
scheduled flights," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA X-33 deputy program manager.
The thermal shields will protect the X-33 from extreme temperatures
encountered during atmospheric re-entry. The panels are metalic and are
easy to maintain. When used over insulating material, they will protect
the vehicle from temperatures near 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
The X-33 is a half-scale technology demonstrator of a new reusable launch
vehicle which will replace the space shuttle. The new
single-stage-to-orbit RLV has been named the VentureStar. Officials hope
that the VentureStar will reduce the cost of space travel from $10,000 per
pound to $1,000 per pound.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more