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Orbital Sciences X-34

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Orbital Sciences X34.jpg
The X-34 on the tarmac
FunctionUnmanned re-usable spaceplane
ManufacturerOrbital Sciences Corporation
Country of originUnited States
Height11.5 ft[1] (3.5 m)
Length58.3 ft[1] (17.77 m)
Wingspan27.7 ft[1] (8.44 m)
Mass18,000 lb[1] (8,200 kg)
Launch history
StatusCancelled (March, 2001)
Launch sitesDryden Flight Research Center, Kennedy Space Center
Total launches0
First stage - X-34
Engines1 Marshall-designed Fastrac engine[1]
Thrust60,000 lbf[1] (270 kN)

The Orbital Sciences X-34 was intended to be a low-cost testbed for demonstrating "key technologies" which could be integrated into the Reusable Launch Vehicle program. It was intended to be an autonomous pilotless craft powered by a 'Fastrac' liquid-propellant rocket engine, capable of reaching Mach 8, and performing 25 test flights per year.

The X-34 began as a program for a suborbital reusable-rocket technology demonstrator. In early 2001, the first flight vehicle was near completion, but the program was ended due to budget concerns. Up to this point, the project had encompassed spending of just under $112 million: $85.7M from the original contract with designer Orbital Sciences, $16M from NASA and various government agencies for testing, and an additional $10M for Orbital Sciences to adapt its L-1011 carrier to accommodate the X-34. The program was officially canceled by NASA on March 31, 2001.[2] The unpowered prototype had been used only for towing and captive flight tests when the project was canceled.

The two demonstrators remained in storage at Edwards Air Force Base[3], until they were temporarily moved to Mojave, California in late 2010. This prompted some speculation that they might be restored to flight status.[4] As of April 2020, one of the fuselages was seen lying in parts in a scrapyard in nearby Rosamond, California.


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This page was last edited on 16 August 2020, at 23:47
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