X-38 in hangar
Another recent prototype was the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle design, which NASA says was intended to help develop a spacecraft that could serve as a "lifeboat" for the International Space Station, among other uses. In this 1998 photo, an X-38 sits in a hangar at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The project used off-the-shelf technology in order to keep costs down. For instance, NASA says, the flight computer in the X-38 was commercial equipment that was in use in aircraft at the time, and the flight software operating system also was a commercial system.
Clearly reflecting its lifting-body lineage, the X-38 prototype vehicle (several were made) was 28 feet long and 14 feet wide, and weighed approximately 16,000 pounds. The X-38 was built by Scaled Composites, which more recently has been involved in the SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo projects that are at the forefront of the nascent commercial spaceflight industry.
April 11, 2010 6:00 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (NASA-DFRC)
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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