Seventh and final X-40A free flight test successful
Posted: May 21, 2001

The X-40A touches down at Edwards. Photo: NASA-DFRC
The X-40A vehicle successfully performed a seventh -- and final -- free flight test Saturday at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif. The X-40A was lifted by an Army Chinook helicopter to an altitude of 15,005 feet (4,574 meters) and released at 6:15 a.m. PDT, reaching a speed of 304 mph (486 kilometers per hour), to complete the test when the wheels rolled to a stop at 6:17 a.m. PDT.

Saturday's X-40A test objectives repeated vehicle maneuvers from an earlier free flight test, monitoring vehicle performance during roll and yaw adjustments -- when the vehicle is rotated and moved side to side during flight.

The X-40A's free flight and landing tests are being conducted as part of NASA's X-37 program, intended to reduce the risk of flight testing the X-37 experimental re-entry vehicle. The X-37 will enable NASA to test advanced technologies in the harsh environment of space and in returning through Earth's atmosphere. The X-40A is an 85 percent scale version of the X-37.

The X-40A test vehicle, on loan from the Air Force, was built for the Air Force by The Boeing Company at its Seal Beach, Calif., facility. It was free flight tested once before, in August 1998 at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico, for the Air Force's Space Maneuver Vehicle program.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., NASA's lead center for space transportation systems development, manages the X-37. Dryden Flight Research Center is responsible for the X-37/X-40A flight test activities.