Tag Archives: spaceplane

India test flies its first spaceplane prototype

The competition heats up: India this morning successfully completed a test flight of its first spaceplane engineering prototype.

After a 90sec burn, the booster delivered the RLV-TD to the proper altitude before separating from the prototype and destructively fall back to Earth in the Bay of Bengal. Meanwhile, the RLV-TD continued on, falling back into Earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic velocity. During this hypersonic test, the RLV-TD pitched its nose up relative to the horizon and direction of travel – just as the Space Shuttles did during atmospheric entry. This allowed engineers to gather valuable in-flight data surrounding the performance of the vehicle’s thermal protection system (600 heat-resistant tiles and a carbon-carbon nose), its aerodynamic characteristics during hypersonic flight, and inform the overall design of the eventual full-scale RLV.

The prototype was designed to test the flight characteristics of the spaceplane, not its landing capabilities. If all went as planned, it would have glided horizontally into the ocean, as if it was landing on a runway, but then sink.


Phase 2 begins in DARPA spaceplane program

The competition heats up: DARPA is about to start asking for proposals for the second phase of its XS-1 spaceplane program.

In Phase 1 of XS-1, DARPA sought to evaluate the technical feasibility and methods for achieving the program’s goals. To achieve that, it awarded prime contracts to three companies, each working in concert with a commercial launch provider: The Boeing Company (working with Blue Origin, LLC); Masten Space Systems (working with XCOR Aerospace); and Northrop Grumman Corporation (working with Virgin Galactic). Phases 2 and 3 will be competed as a full and open Program Solicitation mandating an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement with the expectation of a single resulting award. Cost share is expected.

The primary goal is to build a vehicle that can fly ten times in ten days and put a small satellite into orbit.


India’s spaceplane prototype to fly by August

The competition heats up: The first test flight of India’s prototype scaled-down version of a reusable spaceplane is expected by late July or early August at the latest.

It appears the Modi government is accelerating development of this mini-shuttle, which is essentially India’s version of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser. If they build it first, it will mean they will have the chance to grab the business that Sierra Nevada has been hoping to grab.


Test flight of European space plane delayed

The November suborbital test flight of Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) has been delayed to allow additional preparation.

For this mission, instead of heading north into a polar orbit, as on previous flights, Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean to test new technologies for future autonomous controlled reentry for return missions. This trajectory is unprecedented for Vega and therefore more information is being generated on the performance of the launch vehicle, should an anomaly occur after liftoff.

ESA will not only be testing the flight characteristics of the space plane, they will be testing their new Vega rocket, which has only been launched a handful of times.


Some additional details about Airbus’s spaceplane, its recent successful drop tests, and the company’s future plans.

Some additional details about Airbus’s spaceplane, its recent successful drop tests, and the company’s future plans.

The design has similar to XCOR’s Lynx. It would take off and land from a runway and do a suborbital flight without the need of a mother ship.