The Lockheed Martin X-33 was an unmanned, sub-scale technology demonstrator suborbital spaceplane developed in the 1990s under the U.S. government-funded Space Launch Initiative program. The X-33 was a technology demonstrator for the VentureStar orbital spaceplane, which was planned to be a next-generation, commercially operated reusable launch vehicle. The X-33 would flight-test a range of technologies that NASA believed it needed for single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicles (SSTO RLVs), such as metallic thermal protection systems, composite cryogenic fuel tanks for liquid hydrogen, the aerospike engine, autonomous (unmanned) flight control, rapid flight turn-around times through streamlined operations, and its lifting body aerodynamics.

Failures led to the cancellation of the program as a federal program in 2001, but Lockheed Martin has conducted related testing, and has had successes as recently as 2009.
View in Google Earth Categories: Spaceport
Links: en.wikipedia.org, www.dfrc.nasa.gov
By: kjfitz
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