Author Topic: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?  (Read 48731 times)

Offline Jim

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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.

Offline Whisper-stream

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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.
LIBERTAS PER VERITATEM

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 »

Offline kfsorensen

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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.

Offline eeergo

Bumping this old thread after more than 5 years, because the two completed X-34's are living tough days, in even worse condition than they were at a few years ago in the (crappy) hangar:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26546/the-tragic-tale-of-how-nasas-x-34-space-planes-ended-up-rotting-in-someones-backyard

A sad near-end condition for the predecessors for two high-profile successful programs running today: the X-37B and the Merlin engine.
-DaviD-

Offline Proponent

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #90 on: 02/20/2019 02:56 pm »
What was it that the X-34 was supposed do that would not have been demonstrated by the X-33 or the X-37?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #91 on: 02/20/2019 03:28 pm »
What was it that the X-34 was supposed do that would not have been demonstrated by the X-33 or the X-37?

That's a good question. It was mainly focused on fast turnaround and reducing launch costs for small payloads. But it was a suborbital flight demonstrator. I'm seeing a certain amount of crocodile tears over this thing. Yeah, it would have been nice to have one of them end up in a museum, but they never flew, and they're not famous. This is left-over flight hardware that nobody remembers cause it didn't fly. There's more important stuff that needs preservation.




Offline libra

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #92 on: 02/20/2019 03:31 pm »
As Blackstar said. Flyback booster demonstrator  and testbed, and a partially reusable launcher with a pop-up, expendable upper stage. That was the plan, really.

What was ill-defined indeed was whether the vehicle was a NASA testbed or an operational vehicle to be handled to a launch company.

X-33 was SSTO demonstrator.
X-37 (& the X-40 atmospheric model) were space planes demonstrators to be carried in the Shuttle payload bay to test reentry.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 03:33 pm by libra »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #93 on: 02/20/2019 03:40 pm »
I knew somebody who had a NASA contract to write a history of this project several years ago. Unfortunately, he was the kind of person who didn't finish things (sorta a metaphor for the X-34?) and he didn't finish this. I assume that whatever he did do ended up in the NASA HQ archives.

The project that I'd like to see a history of is the X-38. Not only the vehicle and program, but how it fit into NASA's lifeboat studies for the ISS.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 03:41 pm by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #94 on: 02/20/2019 03:49 pm »
I think that the X-34 example raises an interesting question of the purpose of X-planes. That has changed numerous times over the years. Is the goal to test new technology, explore different flight regimes, or demonstrate that certain things are possible so that commercial industry can then take over? It really has shifted, sometimes program to program and other times by eras, depending upon who is in charge at NASA. And the agency has gone a long period without X-planes. The X-59 (that long spiky one) is sorta a big deal for the agency. They were advised that they needed to do something flashy to restore interest in their flight testing program, so they went big.

Offline libra

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #95 on: 02/20/2019 04:58 pm »
Quote
how it fit into NASA's lifeboat studies for the ISS.

That would make one heck of an interesting history, for sure. From 1985 to 2005, say. Early studies included Viking and Apollo hardware, later was ESA ACRV, the Soyuz story, later the prehistory of what become Orion (Orbital Space Plane and CEV 2003-2004)

There are some bits here and there on the Internet. Some are pretty intriguing, such as Soyuz carried in the Shuttle payload bay, ESA post-Hermes Apollo-shapes (tested by the ARV) Zarya derived lifeboats for ISS, HL-20 PLS, and plenty others.

In spring 2003 a group of Apollo greybeards led by Dale Myers made a study of an upgraded Apollo capsule as an interim lifeboat for the ISS. Say what you want, but this was the very step in breaking the "winged vehicle" mantra that had dominated NASA since 1972. Within the span of some months, that Apollo study become part of the Orbital Space Plane studies (most of them lifting bodies and winged shapes) overtook them, and the end result was Orion.

The ultimate irony of course being that Soyuz is still there as of 2019, as lifeboat and main crew vehicle of the ISS.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 05:03 pm by libra »

Offline Mark K

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #96 on: 02/20/2019 05:00 pm »
I think that the X-34 example raises an interesting question of the purpose of X-planes. That has changed numerous times over the years. Is the goal to test new technology, explore different flight regimes, or demonstrate that certain things are possible so that commercial industry can then take over? It really has shifted, sometimes program to program and other times by eras, depending upon who is in charge at NASA. And the agency has gone a long period without X-planes. The X-59 (that long spiky one) is sorta a big deal for the agency. They were advised that they needed to do something flashy to restore interest in their flight testing program, so they went big.

What is NASA's all electric testbed called? Is that an X plane? If not it out to be with the counter rotating wing tip propellers and multiple engines and such.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #97 on: 02/20/2019 05:59 pm »

What is NASA's all electric testbed called? Is that an X plane? If not it out to be with the counter rotating wing tip propellers and multiple engines and such.


https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasas-x-57-electric-research-plane

Type in "NASA all electric x-plane" into Google and voila!

X-57

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #98 on: 02/20/2019 06:01 pm »
But all that raises an important question: what is an X-plane? NASA has had a lot of experimental aircraft over the years and they did not all receive X-plane designations. And even some of the ones that did receive the designation were argued about beforehand over whether they were "worthy" of the X-plane designation (and sometimes even afterwards). So there has long been a question of what is the purpose of this kind of flight research.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: X-34: Why was it cancelled and where is the vehicle today?
« Reply #99 on: 02/20/2019 06:07 pm »
The ultimate irony of course being that Soyuz is still there as of 2019, as lifeboat and main crew vehicle of the ISS.

Yeah. Of course, it could do the job and it was proven and cheap. But there's also the related issue of international politics. The Russians had to contribute something to the ISS over a long period of time. They could contribute the Soyuz.

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