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Developing and flight testing the HL-10 lifting body: A precursor to the Space ShuttleThe origins of the lifting-body idea are traced back to the mid-1950's, when the concept of a manned satellite reentering the Earth's atmosphere in the form of a wingless lifting body was first proposed. The advantages of low reentry deceleration loads, range capability, and horizontal landing of a lifting reentry vehicle (as compared with the high deceleration loads and parachute landing of a capsule) are presented. The evolution of the hypersonic HL-10 lifting body is reviewed from the theoretical design and development process to its selection as one of two low-speed flight vehicles for fabrication and piloted flight testing. The design, development, and flight testing of the low-speed, air-launched, rocket-powered HL-10 was part of an unprecedented NASA and contractor effort. NASA Langley Research Center conceived and developed the vehicle shape and conducted numerous theoretical, experimental, and wind-tunnel studies. NASA Flight Research Center (now NASA Dryden Flight Research Center) was responsible for final low-speed (Mach numbers less than 2.0) aerodynamic analysis, piloted simulation, control law development, and flight tests. The prime contractor, Northrop Corp., was responsible for hardware design, fabrication, and integration. Interesting and unusual events in the flight testing are presented with a review of significant problems encountered in the first flight and how they were solved. Impressions by the pilots who flew the HL-10 are included. The HL-10 completed a successful 37-flight program, achieved the highest Mach number and altitude of this class vehicle, and contributed to the technology base used to develop the space shuttle and future generations of lifting bodies.
Document ID
Document Type
Other - NASA Reference Publication (RP)
Kempel, Robert W.
(PRC Kentron, Inc. Edwards, CA., United States)
Painter, Weneth D.
(National Test Pilot School Mojave, CA., United States)
Thompson, Milton O.
(NASA Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1994
Subject Category
Aircraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.61:1332
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 505-68-50
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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