Encyclopedia Astronautica

American manned rocketplane. Study 1972. In August 1972 it was proposed to test a subscale version of the shuttle to test the aerodynamics. The 13,750 kg vehicle would be 11 m long and have a wingspan of 7 m.

Air dropped from an NB-52 carrier aircraft, it would use the XLR-99 engine developed for the X-15 to boost it to over Mach 5.

It would be equipped with off-the-shelf on-board systems, but use the thermal protection materials planned for the shuttle. Proponents said they could accomplish the program for $19.7 million, but opponents said it would cost over $150 million. It was never authorized, and it was only on the first orbital flight that the shuttle aerodynamics were proven at supersonic speeds.

Gross mass: 13,750 kg (30,310 lb).
Height: 11.00 m (36.00 ft).
Span: 7.00 m (22.90 ft).

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • XLR99 Thiokol Lox/Ammonia rocket engine. 262.4 kN. Out of production. Isp=276s. The first large, man-rated, throttleable, restartable liquid propellant rocket engine, boosted the X-15A. First flight 1959. More...

See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • North American American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. North American, Palmdale, El Segundo. Downey, CA, USA More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Ammonia Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Ammonia (NH3) is a colourless gas and liquid with a strong irritating characteristic odour. More...

  • Jenkins, Dennis R,, Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System : The First 100 Missions, Third edition, Voyageur Press, 2001.

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