|Dryden Home > Collections > Movies > X-38 > Movie #EM-0038-05|
X-38 vehicle descending toward re-entry under the control of the Global Positioning System. - computer animation
|Formats||160x120 15-fps QuickTime Movie (2,111 KBytes)
320x240 30-fps QuickTime Movie (1,383 KBytes)
320x240 30-fps MPEG-1 Movie (2,198 KBytes)
|Still photos of this aircraft are available in several resolutions at
This computer animation clip shows the X-38 vehicle descending toward re-entry under the control of the Global Positioning System.
In the mid-1990's researchers at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, and Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, began working actively with the sub-scale X-38 prototype crew return vehicle (CRV). This was an unpiloted lifting body designed at 80 percent of the size of a projected emergency crew return vehicle for the International Space Station. The X-38 and the actual CRV were patterned after a lifting-body shape first employed in the Air Force X-23 (SV-5) program in the mid-1960's and the Air Force-NASA X-24A lifting-body project in the early to mid-1970's.
Built by Scaled Composites, Inc., in Mojave, California, and outfitted with avionics, computer systems, and other hardware at Johnson Space Center, two X-38 aircraft were involved in flight research at Dryden beginning in July of 1997. Before that, however, Dryden conducted some 13 flights at a drop zone near California City, California. These tests were done with a 1/6-scale model of the X-38 aircraft to test the parafoil concept that would be employed on the X-38 and the actual CRV.
The basic concept was that the actual CRV would use an inertial navigation system together with the Global Positioning System of satellites to guide it from the International Space Station into the Earth's atmosphere. A deorbit engine module will fire to slow the vehicle and cause it to re-enter the atmosphere. Then a series of parachutes and a parafoil would have deploy in sequence to bring the vehicle to a landing, possibly in a field next to a hospital.
Flight research at NASA Dryden for the X-38 began with an unpiloted captive carry flight in which the vehicle remained attached to its future launch vehicle, the Dryden B-52 008. There were four captive flights in 1997 and three in 1998, plus the first drop test on March 12, 1998, using the parachutes and parafoil. Further captive and drop tests occurred in 1999. Although the X-38 landed safely on the lakebed at Edwards after the March 1998 drop test, there had been some problems with the parafoil. Intermediate parafoil tests at the Army Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona enabled the project to resolve these problems and resume flight research.
In the drop tests, the X-38 vehicles were autonomous after air launch from the B-52. After they deploy the parafoil, they have remained autonomous, but there is also a manual mode that allows control from the ground. The X-38 vehicles (designated V131 and V132) are each 24.5 feet long. The actual CRV planned to be flown in space was expected to be 30 feet long. The X-38 program was cancelled in March 2002.
|Keywords||X-38; Dryden Flight Research Center; Johnson Space Center; NASA; Crew Return Vehicle; technology demonstrator; prototype; X-23; SV-5; X-24A; lifting body; Scaled Composites; Inc.; avionics; computer systems; parafoil; inertial navigation system; Global Positioning System; lakebed; U. S. Army; Yuma Proving Grounds; autonomous; manual mode; CRV; deorbit|