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NASA Meatball NASA Dryden X-33 Advanced Technology Demonstrator banner
X-33 Simulation Flown by Steve Ishmael X-33 Simulation Flown by Steve Ishmael

Photo Number: EC97-44008-2
Photo Date: May 1997

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Steve Ishmael flies a simulation of the X-33 Advanced Technology Demonstrator at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. This simulation was used to provide flight trajectory data while flight control laws were being designed and developed, as well as to provide aerodynamic design information to X-33 developer Lockheed Martin.

The X-33 program was a government/industry effort to design, build and fly a half-scale prototype that would have demonstrate in flight the new technologies needed for the proposed Lockheed Martin full-scale VentureStar Reusable Launch Vehicle.

The X-33 was a wedged-shaped subscale technology demonstrator prototype of a potential future Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) that Lockheed Martin had dubbed VentureStar. The company hoped to develop VentureStar early this century. Through demonstration flight and ground research, NASA's X-33 program was to have provided the information needed for industry representatives such as Lockheed Martin to decide whether to proceed with the development of a full-scale, commercial RLV program.

The X-33 design was based on a lifting body shape with two revolutionary "linear aerospike" rocket engines and a rugged metallic thermal protection system. The vehicle also was to have used lightweight components and fuel tanks built to conform to the vehicle's outer shape. Time between X-33 flights was planned to normally be seven days, but the program hoped to demonstrate a two-day turnaround between flights during the flight-test phase of the program.

The X-33 was to have been an unpiloted vehicle that took off vertically like a rocket and landed horizontally like an airplane. It was to have reached altitudes of up to 50 miles and high hypersonic speeds. The X-33 Program was managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center and was to have been launched at a special launch site on Edwards Air Force Base. Technical problems with the X-33's composite liquid hydrogen tank resulted in the program being cancelled in February 2001.

NASA Photo by: Jim Ross

Keywords: X-33; Lockheed Martin; VentureStar; RLV; Reusable Launch Vehicle; aerospike rocket engines; Dryden Flight Research Center; Marshall Space Flight Center; lifting bodies; Steve Ishmael; simulation; simulator

Last Modified: December 21, 2004
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