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x-33 reusable launch vehicle demonstrator, spaceport and rangeThe X-33 was a suborbital reusable spaceplane demonstrator, in development from 1996 to early 2001. The intent of the demonstrator was to lower the risk of building and operating a full-scale reusable vehicle fleet. Reusable spaceplanes offered the potential to lower the cost of access to space by an order of magnitude, compared with conventional expendable launch vehicles. Although a cryogenic tank failure during testing ultimately led to the end of the effort, the X-33 team celebrated many successes during the development. This paper summarizes some of the accomplishments and milestones of this X-vehicle program, from the perspective of an engineer who was a member of the team throughout the development. X-33 Program accomplishments include rapid, flight hardware design, subsystem testing and fabrication, aerospike engine development and testing, Flight Operations Center and Operations Control Center ground systems design and construction, rapid Environmental Impact Statement NEPA process approval, Range development and flight plan approval for test flights, and full-scale system concept design and refinement. Lessons from the X-33 Program may have potential application to new RLV and other aerospace systems being developed a decade later.
Document ID
20110016255
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Letchworth, Gary F.
(NASA Kennedy Space Center Cocoa Beach, FL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
September 27, 2011
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles and Launch Operations
Report/Patent Number
KSC-2011-232R
KSC-2011-232
Meeting Information
AIAA Space 2011 Conference(Long Beach, CA)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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