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Lockheed L-301

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

X-24C Configuration January 1977.jpg
X-24C configuration images circa January 1977
Role Hypersonic research project
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
Status Cancelled project
Number built None

Lockheed L-301 (sometimes called the X-24C, though this designation was never officially assigned) was an experimental air-breathing hypersonic aircraft project. It was developed by the NASA and United States Air Force (USAF) organization National Hypersonic Flight Research Facility[1] (NHFRF or NHRF[2]), with Skunk Works as the prime contractor. In January 1977, the program was "tentatively scheduled to operate two vehicles for eight years and to conduct 100 flights per vehicle."[3] NASA discontinued work on L-301 and NHRF in September 1977 due to budget constraints and lack of need.[1]


The L-301 HGV was intended to be a follow-on to the X-15 and X-24 (specifically the X-24B) programs, to take lessons learned from both and integrate them into an airframe capable of at least reaching Mach 8 and engaging in hypersonic skip-glide maneuvers for long range missions. While the NASA program, one of several to use the tentative X-24C designator, was ostensibly canceled in 1977, it was only canceled at the time because of USAF disclosures of duplicate black programs with the same contractors for similar vehicles[citation needed]. The vehicle used both air breathing ram or scramjet propulsion as well as a rocket engine, carrying both RP-1 and LH2 propellant as well as on-board stores of LOX.

Drawings and mission profiles are available from the NASA website.[4]



Originally intended to carry the same XLR-99 engine used by the X-15, the primary engine was changed to the LR-105, which was the sustainer engine used on the Atlas launcher. This rocket engine, burning RP-1 and LOX, was intended to accelerate the X-24C to hypersonic speeds in order to ignite the hydrogen fueled, air breathing ram/scramjet mounted in the belly of the airframe with which it would attain cruise speeds of at least Mach 6 and peak velocities of Mach 8+ at altitudes of 90,000 feet or more. As such, this vehicle was plainly not intended to reach orbit.[citation needed]


Design of the aircraft in various wind tunnel models and contractor drawings seems to follow variations of the FDL-5 and FDL-8 lifting body shapes originally developed by the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory in the 1950s, which were used in the earlier X-23 and X-24A/B programs. With a radically swept delta wing, and 2, 3, or 4 vertical stabilizers, as well as several body flaps (depending on the model), the vehicle did not lack for control surfaces. The vehicle measured 74 feet 10 inches long, 24 ft, 2 in wingspan, and 20 ft, 7 in height.

Various drawings show a payload bay twelve feet long and perhaps five feet diameter.[5]


  1. ^ a b [Lockheed Secret Projects by Dennis R. Jenkins]
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2009-07-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ["X-24C NHRF"]
  4. ^
  5. ^

Further reading

  • Miller, Jay. The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45. Hinckley, UK: Midland, 2001.
  • Rose, Bill, 2008. Secret Projects: Military Space Technology. Hinckley, England: Midland Publishing.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 September 2019, at 23:48
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