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Orbital Sciences X-34

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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" that 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.[citation needed]

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 aircraft 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. As of August 2020, the spaceplanes were lying in the yard of a crane company in nearby Lancaster, California.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wikisource:X-34: Demonstrating Reusable Launch Vehicle Technologies
  2. ^ Gibbs, Yvonne (August 12, 2015). "X-34 Advanced Technology Demonstrator". NASA.
  3. ^ Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34 – 2007 photo. Airliners.net.
  4. ^ Rogoway, Tyler; Trevithick, Joseph (August 13, 2020). "The Tragic Tale Of How NASA's X-34 Space Planes Ended Up Rotting In Someone's Backyard". The Drive. Retrieved May 19, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bruce I. Larrimer; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2020), Promise denied : NASA’s X-34 and the quest for cheap reusable access to space, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, ISBN 978-1-62683-051-6

External links[edit]