Author Topic: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?  (Read 47724 times)

Offline vt_hokie

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Unlike X-33, I was under the impression that X-34 was progressing nicely toward flight tests when the program was cancelled.  What was the reasoning behind its cancellation?  Orbital handled final assembly of the X-34, correct?  I remember seeing photos of at least one completed vehicle.

Offline yinzer

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Well, it depends on who you talk to.  But after the loss of MCO and MPL, NASA got a lot more risk-averse, and MSFC decided that the X-34 would require much more flight control redundancy and analysis and such before it could fly.  This would cost too much money, so the X-34 got cancelled.

There are also people who will tell you that the FASTRAC engine was way over budget, behind schedule, and possibly underperforming.  There are also people who will tell you that the X-34 without the added redundancy and testing that the X-34 would have probably, rather than just maybe, crashed.  There are also people who will tell you that Gary Hudson offered to flight test the thing on his own dime if NASA would consider paying him money for the data if it worked, but NASA said no.
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Offline meiza

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Eh, that could have been something, Hudson flying the X-34... But I wonder, NASA still would have gotten bad PR if it had crashed, I think.

Offline GClark

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Interesting news from SA'10.

The X-34s were located and rescued from the Edwards bombing range.  If they are still usuable, the apparent intent is to use them as quick turnaround reusable technology testbeds.

A quick question:  I was under the impression that there were three of them.  The presentation only mentions two.  Can someone enlighten me here?  (Beg, grovel, plead)

Offline Blackstar

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Eh, that could have been something, Hudson flying the X-34... But I wonder, NASA still would have gotten bad PR if it had crashed, I think.

How many successful projects has he completed?

Offline kevin-rf

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I assume you have seen Dr. Elias's comments back in 2007 on it:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=3911.msg186949#msg186949
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Offline GClark

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I assume you have seen Dr. Elias's comments back in 2007 on it:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=3911.msg186949#msg186949

I had not, actually.  Thanks for the pointer.

Offline kevin-rf

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There is a picture of them sitting in a hangar later in the thread:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=3911.msg186292#msg186292

btw anyone know why I can not get the search function to work correctly with X-34?
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Offline Jester

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Offline brtbrt

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another pic of one of them

http://www.airliners.net/photo/NASA/Orbital-Sciences-X-34/1327060/M/

Alas, both surviving birds have been sitting outside since last fall. Last I heard, on the east side of the lake. They were saved from being shot full of holes by some great folks from Dryden, with help from USAF. I haven't heard what will become of them in the future. But they are not in prime shape.

The components of the third airframe didn't do so well. They used to be stored in shipping container on North Base. Someone needed the containers, so most of the spares were simply dumped on the ground and left to rot in the sun.

Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Outer Mold Line
« Reply #10 on: 06/02/2010 04:31 am »
On a related note, does anyone know where I can get ahold of the Outer Mold Line in some reasonable CAD format? Solidworks, Inventor, DXF, etc.

I'm hoping to do X-Plane mods for both the X-34 and the X-33 (I've already asked for that info in the X-33 thread). There's already an Orbiter mod, but I can't figure out how to convert the Orbiter mesh into an X-Plane mesh. And I think X-Plane does a better job of aerodynamics and subsonic handling characteristics.

Offline AnalogMan

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #11 on: 11/19/2010 06:35 pm »
Interesting news from SA'10.

The X-34s were located and rescued from the Edwards bombing range.  If they are still usuable, the apparent intent is to use them as quick turnaround reusable technology testbeds.

A quick question:  I was under the impression that there were three of them.  The presentation only mentions two.  Can someone enlighten me here?  (Beg, grovel, plead)


Update here:
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/11/19/349997/photos-nasa-moves-x-34s-out-of-storage-considers-return-to-flight.html

Offline simonbp

Interesting...

Since FASTRAC is dead and buried (and its ghost haunting the SpaceX halls), I wonder what engine, if any, they would use in any return-to-flight. NK-33 or Merlin would seem to be the right size, though on the other hand, an XCOR or SpaceDev hybrid may be cheaper...

Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #13 on: 11/19/2010 09:24 pm »
Interesting...

Since FASTRAC is dead and buried (and its ghost haunting the SpaceX halls), I wonder what engine, if any, they would use in any return-to-flight. NK-33 or Merlin would seem to be the right size, though on the other hand, an XCOR or SpaceDev hybrid may be cheaper...

The obvious choice would be NK-39, since that is what Orbital wanted to use.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #14 on: 11/20/2010 05:51 am »
Interesting...

Since FASTRAC is dead and buried (and its ghost haunting the SpaceX halls), I wonder what engine, if any, they would use in any return-to-flight. NK-33 or Merlin would seem to be the right size, though on the other hand, an XCOR or SpaceDev hybrid may be cheaper...

The obvious choice would be NK-39, since that is what Orbital wanted to use.

Has an NK-39 been tested recently and have they been fitted with modern control systems yet?

A Merlin or Spacedev hybrid might be the only realistic option.

The XCOR engines even the XR-5M15 seem too small to be a drop in replacement for FASTRAC.

The hybrid might be the cheapest since they might be able to get away with a standard SS2 or DreamChaser engine for early tests.

To reach mach 8 they'll needed a longer burning engine.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2010 06:09 am by Patchouli »

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #15 on: 11/20/2010 02:51 pm »
One of the problems I remember hearing is X-34 didn't answer any unanswered questions.  We know how to enter a winged vehicle from space.

Danny Deger
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Offline martin hegedus

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Re: X-34: Outer Mold Line
« Reply #16 on: 11/20/2010 05:11 pm »
On a related note, does anyone know where I can get ahold of the Outer Mold Line in some reasonable CAD format? Solidworks, Inventor, DXF, etc.

I'm hoping to do X-Plane mods for both the X-34 and the X-33 (I've already asked for that info in the X-33 thread). There's already an Orbiter mod, but I can't figure out how to convert the Orbiter mesh into an X-Plane mesh. And I think X-Plane does a better job of aerodynamics and subsonic handling characteristics.

Any luck finding the outer mold line?  I know that Orbital had an IGES description of it, but not how it was generated.  I can't remember if the contact for it was out of Chandler or Dulles, but I think it was Dulles.  I assume NASA Marshall and Langley had it also.  Both Marshall and Langley had an APAS description of the X-34 which is lower fidelity than IGES.  Some CFD was done on it by NASA also.  In fact papers were written on the X-34 aero database.  A quick search led me to this. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.31.6064&rep=rep1&type=pdf  Also, AIAA paper 2000-0900 describes the generation of the database.  I know that Dr. Pamadi, an author of the papers, is still at Langley.  I doubt he can help you with the IGES file since that is probably intellectual property of Orbital.  The aerodynamic database may be a different story.  NASA may have the distribution rights to it.  However, it may not be in public domain.  In regards to the IGES file, Mr. Ruth and Mr. Fuhrmann, assuming they are still at Orbital, may be able to help you out in determining if you can access the IGES file.

Once you figure out the aerodynamics you can compare it to what is in literature.  The only area I guess Orbiter or X-Plane will compare well to is longitudinal aero at subsonic low angle of attack flow conditions.  Lateral aero prediction may be bad all around.  And that is without body flap deflections.  But I haven't used either code, it's just a hunch.

Edit:  Henri Fuhrmann is now the Orion Launch Abort System Program Manager at Orbital.  So he is still around and probably in a position to tell you the distribution possibilities for the X-34 IGES file(s) and, if you are interested, the aero database.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2010 06:01 pm by martin hegedus »

Offline neilh

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #17 on: 11/20/2010 05:51 pm »
One of the problems I remember hearing is X-34 didn't answer any unanswered questions.  We know how to enter a winged vehicle from space.

We don't know how to do it cost-effectively.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #18 on: 11/20/2010 08:28 pm »
One of the problems I remember hearing is X-34 didn't answer any unanswered questions.  We know how to enter a winged vehicle from space.

Danny Deger
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #19 on: 11/20/2010 11:14 pm »
One of the problems I remember hearing is X-34 didn't answer any unanswered questions.  We know how to enter a winged vehicle from space.

We don't know how to do it cost-effectively.

It can still help us learn about thermo protection systems "every heat shield material we presently have in use is lacking in some manner or another" and how to operate a rocket propelled vehicle with a short turn around.
« Last Edit: 11/20/2010 11:14 pm by Patchouli »

Online Ronsmytheiii

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #20 on: 11/21/2010 02:49 am »
Also, comparisons between X-33 and X-34 are totally inappropriate: X-33 was meant to demonstrate the feasibility of SSTO (or put a final nail on its coffin - that would have been a very useful result). X-34 was meant to measure the cost of reuseability of a reuseable first stage (in terms of parts to be replaced, labor required for turnaround, degree of inspection and retesting required, etc.)  Vital data to validate the non-mass-fraction costs of reusability for which there is still only ONE data point.

Doesn't that sound familiar, like a certain new AF EELV replacement?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21369.0
« Last Edit: 11/21/2010 02:49 am by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline strangequark

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #21 on: 11/22/2010 12:26 am »

Has an NK-39 been tested recently and have they been fitted with modern control systems yet?

A Merlin or Spacedev hybrid might be the only realistic option.

The XCOR engines even the XR-5M15 seem too small to be a drop in replacement for FASTRAC.

The hybrid might be the cheapest since they might be able to get away with a standard SS2 or DreamChaser engine for early tests.

To reach mach 8 they'll needed a longer burning engine.


Methane RL-10?

Offline simonbp

Doesn't that sound familiar, like a certain new AF EELV replacement?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21369.0

I think we have a winner! Perfectly suited to be a testbed for one of those.

First X-37, now possibly X-34. Next we know, USAF will acquiring the parts for a XRS-2200...

Offline Jim

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #23 on: 11/22/2010 04:15 pm »

The hybrid might be the cheapest since they might be able to get away with a standard SS2 or DreamChaser engine for early tests.


Huh?  The airframe is not designed for a hybrid. 
How many times does it have to be said that these systems are not Lego pieces.

Offline simonbp

Huh?  The airframe is not designed for a hybrid. 
How many times does it have to be said that these systems are not Lego pieces.

Well, a bit more justifiable here in that the engine that X-34 was designed around does not (and will not) exist. So, any engine will require some level of redesign.

A hybrid would be cheaper to operate, but require more modifications to the airframe. And if they are really planning to use it as a testbed for a reusable EELV-replacement first stage, I don't think a hybrid is likely, as they'd likely also be using it as an engine testbed. If the goal is just approach and landing systems tests, a hybrid is more likely...

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #25 on: 11/22/2010 08:29 pm »
Huh?  The airframe is not designed for a hybrid. 
How many times does it have to be said that these systems are not Lego pieces.

Well, a bit more justifiable here in that the engine that X-34 was designed around does not (and will not) exist. So, any engine will require some level of redesign.

A hybrid would be cheaper to operate, but require more modifications to the airframe. And if they are really planning to use it as a testbed for a reusable EELV-replacement first stage, I don't think a hybrid is likely, as they'd likely also be using it as an engine testbed. If the goal is just approach and landing systems tests, a hybrid is more likely...
If the goal is just approach and landing systems tests, then just drop it from an airplane.

Hybrids aren't really that great.
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Offline strangequark

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #26 on: 11/22/2010 09:03 pm »

Well, a bit more justifiable here in that the engine that X-34 was designed around does not (and will not) exist. So, any engine will require some level of redesign.

A hybrid would be cheaper to operate, but require more modifications to the airframe. And if they are really planning to use it as a testbed for a reusable EELV-replacement first stage, I don't think a hybrid is likely, as they'd likely also be using it as an engine testbed. If the goal is just approach and landing systems tests, a hybrid is more likely...

A solid is more likely (still not what's going to happen, but more likely). If your objective is to test the feasibility of a rapid-turnaround, reusable first stage, then don't saddle it with an unrelated immature technology. That is, you don't test your new brake design on a vehicle with articulating RadiKS Smartwheels.

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 11/22/2010 11:02 pm by yg1968 »

Offline simonbp

Quote
According to John Kelly, NASA Dryden's Flight Opportunities Program office manager, the two vehicles are under consideration as potential flight platforms for reusable space launch vehicle technology demonstrations, such as return-to-launch-site recovery and rapid-turnaround for lower-cost operations.

For the recovery part, you might not need an engine, depending on how much of the envelop you want to simulate. The whole point, though, of a flyback stage is that it is flightworthy from 2-3 km/s burnout to landing, so I'd think you'd want some sort of engine. The rapid-turnaround part also rather confines the fuel to RP-1/LOX to be applicable down the line.

I'm not sure a flight demonstrator budget would be sufficient to cover the costs of adapting NK-39 for US use; are there any small RP-1/LOX, <100 kN thrust engines currently available? Two or three of those would be flexible drop-in replacement for FASTRAC...
« Last Edit: 11/22/2010 11:26 pm by simonbp »

Offline neilh

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #29 on: 11/22/2010 11:41 pm »
Quote
According to John Kelly, NASA Dryden's Flight Opportunities Program office manager, the two vehicles are under consideration as potential flight platforms for reusable space launch vehicle technology demonstrations, such as return-to-launch-site recovery and rapid-turnaround for lower-cost operations.

For the recovery part, you might not need an engine, depending on how much of the envelop you want to simulate. The whole point, though, of a flyback stage is that it is flightworthy from 2-3 km/s burnout to landing, so I'd think you'd want some sort of engine. The rapid-turnaround part also rather confines the fuel to RP-1/LOX to be applicable down the line.

I'm not sure a flight demonstrator budget would be sufficient to cover the costs of adapting NK-39 for US use; are there any small RP-1/LOX, <100 kN thrust engines currently available? Two or three of those would be flexible drop-in replacement for FASTRAC...

For <<100kN there's the LOX-kerosene engine XCOR is testing for use on the Lynx: http://www.xcor.com/products/engines/5K18_LOX-kerosene_rocket_engine.html
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Online Ronsmytheiii

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #30 on: 11/23/2010 12:08 am »
Merlin is available, but it is a bit over powered.  Still it is the cheapest/smallest US RP-1 engine available without a new engine development program, which I would assume the AF is trying to avoid for a technology demonstrator.

Edit:  I suppose the NK-33 could be used as well, but since Merlin is in production and already flight tested on multiple flights.......

The big thing is that the AF will probably use a "off the self" engine, while things like TPS and the rocket back maneuver will be the big tests if the X-34 can test the later.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2010 12:13 am by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #31 on: 11/23/2010 03:05 am »
Merlin is available, but it is a bit over powered.  Still it is the cheapest/smallest US RP-1 engine available without a new engine development program, which I would assume the AF is trying to avoid for a technology demonstrator.

Edit:  I suppose the NK-33 could be used as well, but since Merlin is in production and already flight tested on multiple flights.......

The big thing is that the AF will probably use a "off the self" engine, while things like TPS and the rocket back maneuver will be the big tests if the X-34 can test the later.

The Merlin probably would be the best engine to use as it would require the least amount of work and it has modern control systems.

The RS-27 is way too big and the NK-39 probably would require development of modernized control systems for the engine.
I could not see them dealing with 1970 era controls that lack comprehensive health monitoring and use outdated data buss standards or worse yet analog controls.

No matter what they use there will be modifications to the thrust structure of the airframe and CG change issues.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2010 03:06 am by Patchouli »

Offline simonbp

Merlin is twice the thrust of FASTRAC, and so really too big. A trio of short-nozzle Kestrels might work a bit better...

Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #33 on: 11/23/2010 03:53 am »
The RS-27 is way too big and the NK-39 probably would require development of modernized control systems for the engine.
I could not see them dealing with 1970 era controls that lack comprehensive health monitoring and use outdated data buss standards or worse yet analog controls.

Don't forget that Orbital was baselining NK-39 for much of the development phase of the project.  Also, Orbital now has quite a bit of experience integrating NK engines into their systems.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #34 on: 11/23/2010 04:13 am »
Merlin is twice the thrust of FASTRAC, and so really too big. A trio of short-nozzle Kestrels might work a bit better...
I figured it probably could be ran at less then full thrust for the application.

Kestrel is a pressure fed engine which likely would mean new tanks but maybe they could be converted over to some sorta of pump fed system.


Don't forget that Orbital was baselining NK-39 for much of the development phase of the project.  Also, Orbital now has quite a bit of experience integrating NK engines into their systems.


So the task of modernizing the avionics on the NK-39 is probably already done?
The Nk-39 is still higher thrust then the Fastrac engine but no where near as much as Merlin.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #35 on: 11/23/2010 12:49 pm »
Has Merlin ever been test fired on it's side? Does SpaceX has the extra engineering resources for this one off to make it work in this unique mode?

I vaguely recall from one of the RL-10 histories, that they did a bunch of the initial testing of it on it's side, and when they tried to fire it vertically for the first time on a test stand, they ran into trouble and had to rework it. (I am not advocating a LH/LOX switch, the vehicle was designed for Kero/LOX).

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Offline Pedantic Twit

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #36 on: 11/23/2010 01:22 pm »
Has Merlin ever been test fired on its side? Does SpaceX has the extra engineering resources for this one off to make it work in this unique mode?
Press Release.
SpaceX May 2003 update.
It's a very very very early development Merlin, but it's sideways. (Do they even use this particular test stand anymore?)
« Last Edit: 11/23/2010 01:23 pm by Pedantic Twit »

Offline neilh

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #37 on: 11/24/2010 01:30 am »
Does anybody know of any articles which discuss what happened during the X-34's cancellation? I'd like to add info about it to the X-34 wikipedia article, which currently only has some unreferenced claims.

The closest I've been able to find is this snippet from a 2003 Clark Lindsay interview of Gary Hudson:

http://www.hobbyspace.com/AAdmin/archive/Interviews/Systems/GaryHudson.html
Quote
HS: There doesn't seem to be much of a tradition of investigative journalism within the aerospace press. When you talk about your case and the X-37 situation, it reminds me of the X-34 cancellation, which I saw as an outrage if not a scandal. As I understand it, in the aftermath of the two Mars mission failures, all major projects got hit with system reviews to avoid any more embarassing public disasters. For the X-34, they added so many additional safety requirements that it crossed their cost limit and so was canceled. This happened even though, in traditional X project spirit, Orbital had built 3 vehicles just so it would have backups if one was lost. In addition, NASA had required that they use the Fastrac engine, which as far as I know, was a project that simply faded away without ever flying an engine or making any public accounting whatsoever.

You surely know more about what really happened in these cases than I do. However, the fact that I have to guess as to what happened [in these and your cases] rather than go to a NASA web page and read a clear and full summary of such projects [and how decisions regarding them were made] absolutely amazes me. And I'm even more amazed that the aerospace press lets them get away with it.

Hudson: You have the story exactly right, insofar as I am aware. While I am not a fan of Orbital, I have often taken their side in the X-34 matter. NASA MSFC needs a through housecleaning and it requires a persistent and competent press to get Headquarters or the Congress to do their job.
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Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #38 on: 11/24/2010 05:28 am »
Let me add my two cents' worth of history concerning the birth and death of X-34:

Sometime around 1993-4, there was a big NASA conference concerning what should be done to capitalize on the success of DC-X and a general feeling that the shuttle was too expensive as a means of attaining orbit, and that a cheaper alternative should be developed. As a result of this conference, the idea of a SSTO X-vehicle was mooted, which became X-33. Somehow, and to the great amazement of a lot of people, X-34 also emerged at the same time. Many did not understand why X-34 was to be, the official story was that X-34 would be a pathfinder for X-33, a story told with a straight face by NASA officials who at the same time stated that X-33 would likely fly before, or in parallel with X-34, leaving open the question of how X-34 could be a pathfinder for a vehicle that would before X-34.

The scuttlebutt at the time was that this was the way to get Rockwell and Orbital to line up with the general direction that NASA was taking, although I have no idea if this is true.

At this point, things got a little murkier - it was at this moment in history that the satellite telephone constellations were emerging, and it appeared that a cheap small satellite launcher might be a significant moneymaker.  And, it turned out that the initial Orbital/Rockwell X-34 concept could be an effective Iridium/Globalstar delivery vehicle. Given that X-vehicles weren't supposed to be operational commercial prototypes, there was some opposition to the X-34 in that particular incarnation. At that point, it appeared that the opposition was enough to kill X-34, and it died.

But wait, we're just getting started.

Somehow, just a short time down the road, Orbital pitched a new version of X-34, as a pure experimental vehicle, and AFAIR, using Marshall's new Fastrac engine for propulsion (Rockwell was now out of the mix). This new concept, using single string avionics for cost savings, was to be an operational demonstrator, but not suitable for commercial use. As such, it was given ATP, and in fact, Orbital began design and fabrication of the new vehicle.

Well, MSFC had some problems with Fastrac, so Orbital began looking for a replacement, and came up with using the Russian NK-39 engine. At the same time, there was a proposal from Orbital to fly at least part of the program from Florida, as opposed to Edwards. Neither of these two alternates went very far.

Meanwhile, an engineless X-34 was officially rolled out at Edwards, and a program of taxi and glide tests was expected, while the engine problem was being worked. It was at this moment of time that the telephone satellite ventures all pretty much died, so there was no prospect of an X-34 follow-on having any sort of a market. Given that X-34 program funding was running out, there was no engine, the discovery by NASA that X-34 was a risky X-vehicle was the coup de grace - in the aftermath of the two Mars probe failures, NASA decided to abandon "better faster cheaper" and instead decided to focus on safety, thereby killing X-34 again, at a point in time where X-33 was already dead, and no one really cared anymore about X-34.

There probably would have been and would be a benefit from an X-vehicle designed to test robust operations. I don't know if X-34 was or could be that vehicle, though.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2010 05:28 am by Danderman »

Offline iamlucky13

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #39 on: 11/25/2010 03:52 am »
Press Release.
SpaceX May 2003 update.
It's a very very very early development Merlin, but it's sideways. (Do they even use this particular test stand anymore?)

I was thinking of that, too. I somewhat doubt they use that stand anymore. It has a pretty rough-built look to it.

Actually, I'd be hesitant to draw too many parallels from that engine to the current Merlin. That's the ablatively-cooled nozzle, and I don't think it even has a turbopump. It's normally pretty distinctive and both propellant lines go in and out...in the picture both propellant lines seem to run separate and I don't think the pump and associated plumbing could hide behind the chamber. I think it's a pressure fed test of the injector, chamber, throat, and nozzle.

But I miss the point of the question - why would there be a need for it to fire horizontally? I'm not real well versed on the X-34, so I apologize if I'm missing something obvious.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #40 on: 11/25/2010 01:43 pm »
I thought the X-34 was supposed to be air dropped. Am I incorrect?
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Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #41 on: 11/25/2010 02:30 pm »
Yep, the requirement for the X-34 engine to fire horizontally stems from the plan for X-34 to be air-dropped.

As a historical trivial note, I can recall seeing an executive at Orbital once give a presentation where they were discussing using the X-34, or a close derivative, as a SpaceShipTwo type passenger carrier. I believe that the claim was that an X-34 carrier could send 14 people into space.

Perhaps there is a reason for X-34 to be revived that has not yet been suggested here.

Offline vt_hokie

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #42 on: 11/25/2010 06:35 pm »
As a historical trivial note, I can recall seeing an executive at Orbital once give a presentation where they were discussing using the X-34, or a close derivative, as a SpaceShipTwo type passenger carrier.

I believe that the SpaceDev DreamChaser was originally supposed to be an X-34 based suborbital vehicle.

Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #43 on: 11/26/2010 06:07 pm »
As a historical trivial note, I can recall seeing an executive at Orbital once give a presentation where they were discussing using the X-34, or a close derivative, as a SpaceShipTwo type passenger carrier.

I believe that the SpaceDev DreamChaser was originally supposed to be an X-34 based suborbital vehicle.

You might be thinking about the original mid-90's much larger X-34. The current one has neither the mass fraction (roughly 3) nor the payload bay to carry anything much past Mach 8, let alone into orbit.

The latter problem MIGHT be able to be addressed by moving things out of a hull section just forward of the forward tank: the electronics forward towards the bow and the helium pressure bottles into the wings, thus opening it up for more payload.

But even so, it'll be hard to fit more than one suited rider + pressure hull +  ECLSS, let alone more than that. It's a huge redesign, but might have been worth it even though the mass fraction would get worse, and g*d only know what that would do to CG and thermal.

Having said that, I still think the X-34 would be a great VTHL suborbital vehicle.

I tried raising cash to convert the existing birds earlier this year. But alas without me getting custody of the vehicles, nobody was buying. And other folks, with actual cash in hand and therefore the ability to do something, wanted them too. C'est la vie.

Offline martin hegedus

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #44 on: 11/26/2010 07:04 pm »
As a historical trivial note, I can recall seeing an executive at Orbital once give a presentation where they were discussing using the X-34, or a close derivative, as a SpaceShipTwo type passenger carrier.

I believe that the SpaceDev DreamChaser was originally supposed to be an X-34 based suborbital vehicle.

You might be thinking about the original mid-90's much larger X-34. The current one has neither the mass fraction (roughly 3) nor the payload bay to carry anything much past Mach 8, let alone into orbit.

The latter problem MIGHT be able to be addressed by moving things out of a hull section just forward of the forward tank: the electronics forward towards the bow and the helium pressure bottles into the wings, thus opening it up for more payload.

But even so, it'll be hard to fit more than one suited rider + pressure hull +  ECLSS, let alone more than that. It's a huge redesign, but might have been worth it even though the mass fraction would get worse, and g*d only know what that would do to CG and thermal.

Having said that, I still think the X-34 would be a great VTHL suborbital vehicle.

I tried raising cash to convert the existing birds earlier this year. But alas without me getting custody of the vehicles, nobody was buying. And other folks, with actual cash in hand and therefore the ability to do something, wanted them too. C'est la vie.

Any luck getting the geometry files or aerodynamic database?  I'm thinking it would be fun, if permissible, to include this as an example for my Aero Troll tool. (www.hegedusaero.com/software)  At the moment I'm creating a simple arbitrary body modeler component for it and NASA Ames and PDAS has given me the green light to include PANAIR with the tool.  Next I need to check with Open Channel Foundation.  Haven't started calling around yet in regards to X-34 data but any experience or thoughts you are willing to share would be helpful.  Thanks.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #45 on: 11/26/2010 08:11 pm »
Could it have an upper stage bolted so the X-34 could be a first stage of a TSTO?

Offline yinzer

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #46 on: 11/26/2010 09:16 pm »
That was the plan for the mid-90s X-34 people are talking about.  I don't think there's anywhere to really bolt the upper stage on the current X-34.
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Offline Jester

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #48 on: 11/27/2010 02:06 pm »
If that is true, does that mean this thread will have to move to the comercial section of NSF? ;)
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Offline iamlucky13

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #49 on: 11/30/2010 01:30 am »
http://gizmodo.com/5699838/the-real-story-behind-nasas-resurrected-space-plane

In other words, he knows of no definite plans, but has some fun ideas to speculate on.

Offline kevin-rf

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« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 06:07 pm by kevin-rf »
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Offline simonbp

Quote
Although originally conceived as a testbed for the reusable Fastrac engine designed and developed by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala., the vehicle is appropriately sized for the hybrid nitrous oxide, hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene-fueled rocket engine planned for the Dream Chaser.

Well, that brings us full circle! :)

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #52 on: 12/01/2010 07:43 pm »
The hybrid might be the cheapest since they might be able to get away with a standard SS2 or DreamChaser engine for early tests.
Huh?  The airframe is not designed for a hybrid. 
How many times does it have to be said that these systems are not Lego pieces.

Quote
Although originally conceived as a testbed for the reusable Fastrac engine designed and developed by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala., the vehicle is appropriately sized for the hybrid nitrous oxide, hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene-fueled rocket engine planned for the Dream Chaser.

Well, that brings us full circle! :)

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Offline Jim

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #53 on: 12/01/2010 08:03 pm »
They are "studying" it.  It doesn't mean it is feasible.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #54 on: 12/01/2010 08:04 pm »
I'll predict, if they go this route it will end up costing more than building a new airframe from scratch. So in the end Jim will be right ;)

Edit: Darn, Jim beat me to the punch...
« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 08:05 pm by kevin-rf »
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Offline Zond

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #55 on: 01/11/2012 06:28 pm »
Anybody know the current status of he X-34's? Are they currently planning to do something with the prototypes?

There are some nice pics of the X-34's at the Orbital apron at mojave airport. http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1419436
And you can see them in google maps images: Orbital apron

Offline simonbp

Yeah, just hanging out with Stargazer, shooting the breeze...

Offline Prober

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #57 on: 01/12/2012 12:38 am »
Yeah, just hanging out with Stargazer, shooting the breeze...

I've been researching the X-37 programs and some crossover with the X-34 is there.

1) The program ended long before the X-37
2) The Orbital H2O2 engine program ran into some issues.  The docs are not real clear if the fixes were made.   Atm looks like the plug was pulled before, but I can be wrong.

Engine test video: 
http://sscfreedom.ssc.nasa.gov/etd/MPGs/H2O2_USFE_Seq_01.mpg
« Last Edit: 01/12/2012 12:44 am by Prober »
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Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #58 on: 05/30/2012 05:37 pm »
As it is today.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #59 on: 05/30/2012 10:00 pm »
As it is today.

I thought the two of these things were in a hangar?

I know someone who is writing a book about the X-34.

Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #60 on: 05/30/2012 10:28 pm »
As it is today.

I thought the two of these things were in a hangar?

I know someone who is writing a book about the X-34.

According to a message posted here earlier, the two airframes were moved out onto the apron earlier this year. I did see the two airframes when I was taking a photo, but missed one of them. They don't seem to be in good condition.

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #61 on: 05/30/2012 10:46 pm »
As it is today.

I thought the two of these things were in a hangar?

I know someone who is writing a book about the X-34.

According to a message posted here earlier, the two airframes were moved out onto the apron earlier this year. I did see the two airframes when I was taking a photo, but missed one of them. They don't seem to be in good condition.


The were moved from Edwards AFB last year or the year before, to Mojave, and are sitting next to Stargazer.

Offline Whisper-stream

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #62 on: 05/31/2012 07:26 pm »
After the X-34 program was canceled, the two vehicles were moved from place to place around Edwards AFB for several years. Parts of a third airframe were in storage with spares and miscellaneous support equipment. Eventually, everything ended up in storage at North Base.

With the hangar doors open, X-34-A1 and X-34-A2 were exposed to some degree of weathering, as well as to damage caused by rodents and birds. Several years ago, the two vehicles were towed across the lakebed and out onto the Precision Impact Range Area (PIRA) where they reportedly served as laser targets. On the PIRA, the composite airframes were exposed to a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat, extreme cold, strong winds, dust storms, and rain.

After the vehicles were moved to the PIRA, the miscellaneous spare parts and other equipment were disposed of as trash and scrap. Parts destined for the third airframe lay on the ramp like remnants of a giant model kit. The speed brakes and elevons from the X-34-A1 had been removed and were destined for the dumpster. i rescued the speed brakes and the outboard elevons (I never did find the inboard elevons) and stored them at NASA Dryden in the event that someone might want to put them back on the vehicle someday.

That day eventually came. Someone decided to rescue the vehicles from the PIRA. Unfortunately, they became stranded on the edge of the lakebed due to weather. A rain storm made the lakebed surface too wet to allow the vehicles to be towed across. So they sat on the roadway leading to the East Shore Space Shuttle Public Viewing Site for several months where they were visible and accessible to anyone driving by.

By early May 2010, the lakebed had dried out, and the X-34 vehicles were returned to NASA Dryden and placed in outdoor storage. I called several people to let them know where to find the speed brakes and elevons. These items eventually disappeared from my building. I hope they ended up in the proper place.

The X-34 vehicles departed to Mojave in November 2010. After all the abuse they suffered, I find it hard to believe that they could be made flyable.
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Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #63 on: 06/03/2012 04:27 am »
After the X-34 program was canceled, the two vehicles were moved from place to place around Edwards AFB for several years. Parts of a third airframe were in storage with spares and miscellaneous support equipment. Eventually, everything ended up in storage at North Base.

With the hangar doors open, X-34-A1 and X-34-A2 were exposed to some degree of weathering, as well as to damage caused by rodents and birds. Several years ago, the two vehicles were towed across the lakebed and out onto the Precision Impact Range Area (PIRA) where they reportedly served as laser targets. On the PIRA, the composite airframes were exposed to a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat, extreme cold, strong winds, dust storms, and rain.

After the vehicles were moved to the PIRA, the miscellaneous spare parts and other equipment were disposed of as trash and scrap. Parts destined for the third airframe lay on the ramp like remnants of a giant model kit. The speed brakes and elevons from the X-34-A1 had been removed and were destined for the dumpster. i rescued the speed brakes and the outboard elevons (I never did find the inboard elevons) and stored them at NASA Dryden in the event that someone might want to put them back on the vehicle someday.

That day eventually came. Someone decided to rescue the vehicles from the PIRA. Unfortunately, they became stranded on the edge of the lakebed due to weather. A rain storm made the lakebed surface too wet to allow the vehicles to be towed across. So they sat on the roadway leading to the East Shore Space Shuttle Public Viewing Site for several months where they were visible and accessible to anyone driving by.

By early May 2010, the lakebed had dried out, and the X-34 vehicles were returned to NASA Dryden and placed in outdoor storage. I called several people to let them know where to find the speed brakes and elevons. These items eventually disappeared from my building. I hope they ended up in the proper place.

The X-34 vehicles departed to Mojave in November 2010. After all the abuse they suffered, I find it hard to believe that they could be made flyable.

I tried getting them saved in Nov 2009, just as after they went to PIRA. Alas, it was not to be. By the time I saw then in the winter of 2010, they were in bad shape. There were many parts missing (significant portions of the hydraulics system, control surfaces - now I know where they went :-), electronics). Exterior skins showed significant signs of weathering, there was 2 inches of water in the bilge, one of the ships probably had a bent front landing gear.

The spare parts were worse off. I couldn't find one major structural component that was in good shape. Except for the LOX tanks, which were properly stored all wrapped up and in a wooden container. They'd still have to be tested, but they looked none the worse for wear.

Still, with suitable application of elbow grease and $$$ they could probably be made to fly again. And fly they would - they were even more beautiful up close then in the pictures.

But the devil's in the details - and I don't know if it's going to be possible to come up with the $$$. I tried, and failed. Maybe someone else will be more successful.

Offline Prober

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #64 on: 06/03/2012 01:14 pm »
After the X-34 program was canceled, the two vehicles were moved from place to place around Edwards AFB for several years. Parts of a third airframe were in storage with spares and miscellaneous support equipment. Eventually, everything ended up in storage at North Base.

With the hangar doors open, X-34-A1 and X-34-A2 were exposed to some degree of weathering, as well as to damage caused by rodents and birds. Several years ago, the two vehicles were towed across the lakebed and out onto the Precision Impact Range Area (PIRA) where they reportedly served as laser targets. On the PIRA, the composite airframes were exposed to a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat, extreme cold, strong winds, dust storms, and rain.

After the vehicles were moved to the PIRA, the miscellaneous spare parts and other equipment were disposed of as trash and scrap. Parts destined for the third airframe lay on the ramp like remnants of a giant model kit. The speed brakes and elevons from the X-34-A1 had been removed and were destined for the dumpster. i rescued the speed brakes and the outboard elevons (I never did find the inboard elevons) and stored them at NASA Dryden in the event that someone might want to put them back on the vehicle someday.

That day eventually came. Someone decided to rescue the vehicles from the PIRA. Unfortunately, they became stranded on the edge of the lakebed due to weather. A rain storm made the lakebed surface too wet to allow the vehicles to be towed across. So they sat on the roadway leading to the East Shore Space Shuttle Public Viewing Site for several months where they were visible and accessible to anyone driving by.

By early May 2010, the lakebed had dried out, and the X-34 vehicles were returned to NASA Dryden and placed in outdoor storage. I called several people to let them know where to find the speed brakes and elevons. These items eventually disappeared from my building. I hope they ended up in the proper place.

The X-34 vehicles departed to Mojave in November 2010. After all the abuse they suffered, I find it hard to believe that they could be made flyable.

I tried getting them saved in Nov 2009, just as after they went to PIRA. Alas, it was not to be. By the time I saw then in the winter of 2010, they were in bad shape. There were many parts missing (significant portions of the hydraulics system, control surfaces - now I know where they went :-), electronics). Exterior skins showed significant signs of weathering, there was 2 inches of water in the bilge, one of the ships probably had a bent front landing gear.

The spare parts were worse off. I couldn't find one major structural component that was in good shape. Except for the LOX tanks, which were properly stored all wrapped up and in a wooden container. They'd still have to be tested, but they looked none the worse for wear.

Still, with suitable application of elbow grease and $$$ they could probably be made to fly again. And fly they would - they were even more beautiful up close then in the pictures.

But the devil's in the details - and I don't know if it's going to be possible to come up with the $$$. I tried, and failed. Maybe someone else will be more successful.

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Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #65 on: 06/03/2012 01:51 pm »
After the X-34 program was canceled, the two vehicles were moved from place to place around Edwards AFB for several years. Parts of a third airframe were in storage with spares and miscellaneous support equipment. Eventually, everything ended up in storage at North Base.

...

The X-34 vehicles departed to Mojave in November 2010. After all the abuse they suffered, I find it hard to believe that they could be made flyable.

I tried getting them saved in Nov 2009, just as after they went to PIRA.

...

But the devil's in the details - and I don't know if it's going to be possible to come up with the $$$. I tried, and failed. Maybe someone else will be more successful.

Who has ownership, if you know?


Last I heard NASA got it back from USAF and still officially owns the airframes. I didn't hear about any further transfers of ownership. But I've been out of that loop for well over a year, so I don't know.

Offline Jester

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #66 on: 06/07/2012 08:32 am »
According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?
« Last Edit: 06/07/2012 08:34 am by Jester »

Offline GClark

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #67 on: 06/07/2012 08:55 am »
More likely just parked on the same part of the apron.

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« Last Edit: 06/07/2012 12:30 pm by Jester »

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #69 on: 06/07/2012 05:18 pm »
According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?

I think Orbital was charged with the task of examining them closely, and they had the space at MHV. They're the ones that built the X-34, and the chief engineer of the project is was still at Orbital as of 2 years ago, so it made perfect sense for them to look at the airframes.

About a year ago, I got the chance to ask one of Orbital's higher-ups about the status of the investigation, but couldn't get a straight answer.

Offline iamlucky13

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #70 on: 06/08/2012 03:45 pm »
Somewhat recent picture from Airliners.net

Sorry to be nitpicky, but I know that photos uploaded on Airliners.net retain full copyright to the original photographer and most of them do not want their images shared freely, so absent specific permission from the photographer, you should stick to just to linking to the photo instead of attaching it.

Great job finding that picture, however.

According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?

Orbital was the design contractor for the X-34. I don't think he's suggesting Orbital owns them, but merely associating their involvement in the program (just like the Space Shuttles are sometimes called Rockwell Space Shuttles).

Offline truth is life

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #71 on: 06/08/2012 04:37 pm »

Sorry to be nitpicky, but I know that photos uploaded on Airliners.net retain full copyright to the original photographer and most of them do not want their images shared freely, so absent specific permission from the photographer, you should stick to just to linking to the photo instead of attaching it.

Great job finding that picture, however.

Also, it's not difficult to find a similar image (if from a different perspective) on Google Maps, and I would assume Google Earth. The X-34s are just chilling with Stargazer, yeah...

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #72 on: 06/09/2012 01:31 pm »
According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?

Hope you keep digging for photos as your very good at obtaing them.  Would love to see photos of the engine work for the X-34 etc.   You might find some very good pics of the AR2-3 for the X-37A program linked during this same time.
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Offline Jester

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #73 on: 06/09/2012 04:09 pm »
According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?

Hope you keep digging for photos as your very good at obtaing them.  Would love to see photos of the engine work for the X-34 etc.   You might find some very good pics of the AR2-3 for the X-37A program linked during this same time.


http://www.styleofspeed.com/images/space/x-3star/x-34-mc-1-engine-web-2.jpg

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #74 on: 06/11/2012 02:41 am »
According to the description of that image above of March 2011,
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Orbital-Sciences/Lockheed-L-1011-385-1-15-TriStar/1967628/L/&sid=eccf564096028469df4aaf22d90285aa

Quote
Two Orbital Sciences X-34s can be seen on the ramp.

So is that a mistake? or did they transfer to Orbital ?

Hope you keep digging for photos as your very good at obtaing them.  Would love to see photos of the engine work for the X-34 etc.   You might find some very good pics of the AR2-3 for the X-37A program linked during this same time.


http://www.styleofspeed.com/images/space/x-3star/x-34-mc-1-engine-web-2.jpg

Is that a fastrac mockup?
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Offline iamlucky13

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #75 on: 06/13/2012 06:40 pm »

http://www.styleofspeed.com/images/space/x-3star/x-34-mc-1-engine-web-2.jpg

Is that a fastrac mockup?


That seems extremely detailed for a mockup. They built and fired a prototype, didn't they?


Also, it's not difficult to find a similar image (if from a different perspective) on Google Maps, and I would assume Google Earth. The X-34s are just chilling with Stargazer, yeah...

True:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=35.056484,-118.149304&ll=35.056366,-118.149049&spn=0.001126,0.001947&num=1&t=h&z=19

But it's not nearly as nice of a view as the airliners.net photo, so the latter is worth linking. I hang out on airliners.net from time to time, so I know they're particular about copyrights there, so I figured it was worthwhile to pre-empt any conflict.

Offline Danderman

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #76 on: 06/19/2012 01:24 am »
To answer the question of where it is today, here is imagery from today.

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Offline Zond

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #78 on: 09/22/2013 09:55 am »
Anybody got an update on were the X-34 frames went? In the latest google maps/earth images (dated 2013-05-25) they are no longer on the Orbital lot at the Mojave Airport.
https://maps.google.be/maps?q=mojave+air+and+space+port&ll=35.056412,-118.148987&spn=0.001392,0.002564&client=opera&oe=utf-8&channel=suggest&fb=1&gl=be&hq=mojave+airport&cid=0,0,14076686839782975097&t=h&z=19

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #79 on: 09/22/2013 05:51 pm »
Anybody got an update on were the X-34 frames went? In the latest google maps/earth images (dated 2013-05-25) they are no longer on the Orbital lot at the Mojave Airport.
https://maps.google.be/maps?q=mojave+air+and+space+port&ll=35.056412,-118.148987&spn=0.001392,0.002564&client=opera&oe=utf-8&channel=suggest&fb=1&gl=be&hq=mojave+airport&cid=0,0,14076686839782975097&t=h&z=19

So far, I looked on the web and there has been no word on the whereabouts of the X-34 airframes. Given that the X-34 was only intended to test technologies for pure SSTO spaceplanes, there's a possibility that NASA probably wanted to use the X-34 airframes for ground tests of a rocket to be used on the Dream Chaser, given that Dream Chaser is undergoing captive carrying tests and will soon undergo drop tests.

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #80 on: 09/22/2013 10:04 pm »
there's a possibility that NASA probably wanted to use the X-34 airframes for ground tests of a rocket to be used on the Dream Chaser, given that Dream Chaser is undergoing captive carrying tests and will soon undergo drop tests.

There is no possibility of NASA doing that since Dream Chaser is a SNC project and NASA has no role in its actual development.  There is little chase of SNC doing the same test.

Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #81 on: 09/23/2013 03:21 am »
there's a possibility that NASA probably wanted to use the X-34 airframes for ground tests of a rocket to be used on the Dream Chaser, given that Dream Chaser is undergoing captive carrying tests and will soon undergo drop tests.

There is no possibility of NASA doing that since Dream Chaser is a SNC project and NASA has no role in its actual development.  There is little chase of SNC doing the same test.

I agree that it's unlikely to be NASA. But on the SNC point, Jim, are you speaking from specific knowledge of the SNC project or from more general knowledge?

Offline joek

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #82 on: 09/23/2013 03:51 am »
I agree that it's unlikely to be NASA. But on the SNC point, Jim, are you speaking from specific knowledge of the SNC project or from more general knowledge?
See CCDev, CCiCap, etc. there are no milestones or funding events remotely related to anything involving X-34 or derivatives.

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #83 on: 09/23/2013 03:52 am »
The X-34 airframes are back at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. They are sitting over in the Shuttle area. The main landing gear was pulled off one of them to be used on the Dream Chaser.
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Offline Jim

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #84 on: 09/23/2013 11:26 am »

I agree that it's unlikely to be NASA. But on the SNC point, Jim, are you speaking from specific knowledge of the SNC project or from more general knowledge?

It isn't unlikely, it is not happening for NASA.  As for SNC, it is general knowledge.

Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #85 on: 09/23/2013 01:26 pm »
The X-34 airframes are back at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. They are sitting over in the Shuttle area. The main landing gear was pulled off one of them to be used on the Dream Chaser.

Thanks. This makes a lot of sense.

Offline brtbrt

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #86 on: 09/23/2013 01:36 pm »

I agree that it's unlikely to be NASA. But on the SNC point, Jim, are you speaking from specific knowledge of the SNC project or from more general knowledge?

It isn't unlikely, it is not happening for NASA.  As for SNC, it is general knowledge.

OK, in that case I might be able to add some useful insights.

A few years ago the two X-34 airframes were moved from a hangar on Edwards North Base to the eastern parts of the base. I was one of the people involved in helping to find them a new home. At that time SNC was instrumental in saving them, and had definite designs on them, but I know not in what capacity or to what purpose.

From what Whisper-stream said earlier, it looks like the current purpose is to recycle some subsystems. That makes sense to me based on what I know.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn, however, that in the past, before Orbital completed their assessment of the condition of the airframes, SNC had more ambitious plans for them. And that might have been the source of the rumours about using them for one flight test purpose or another.

Offline Jester

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #87 on: 12/01/2013 06:34 pm »
Some nice shots.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2013 06:38 pm by Jester »

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #88 on: 12/05/2013 02:41 am »
To answer the question of where it is today, here is imagery from today.

Great picture!  Looks like the X-34s are faring a bit better than the poor XRS-2200 linear aerospike engine, stripped of its powerpack and rusting away in the Alabama weather behind MSFC bldg 4205.

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