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X-34A [NASA]

X-34A [NASA]

The X-34 was originally conceived as a reusable two stage launch vehicle for small orbital payloads, powered by a Russian RD-120 engine. During development, the X-34 was descoped to a hypersonic text vehicle, eliminating the second stage. Orbital (OSC) was selected as a prime contractor. It was to be air-launched by Orbital's L-1011 aircraft and powered by NASA's FASTRAC rocket engine.

The objectives of the X-34 were:

  • Readily enable integration of new technologies
  • Capable of 25 test flights over a period of one year
  • Capable of autonomous flight operations
  • Capable of demonstrating safe abort
  • Demonstrate technologies throughout flight profile
  • Subsonic and hypersonic flight
  • Capable of powered flight to at least 250 kft
  • Capable of eventually attaining Mach 8
  • Demonstrate or be upgradable to advanced RLV technologies
  • Incorporate some composite structures (aero, prime airframe and thrust structures)
  • Composite propellant tanks and cryo insulation
  • Composite lines, ducts, valves
  • Advanced operable TPS including leading edge materials
  • Advanced low cost avionics (Navstar/INS)
  • Rapid low cost flight software development tools
  • Integrated vehicle health monitoring
  • Capable of attaining average recurring flight cost
  • Adaptable as a low Mach number test bed (embedded, attached, or deployed) e.g., RBCC; Plug Nozzle; Pulse detonation wave; dual expansion engines

Three vehicles were to be built, but only one was completed. The X-34 program was cancelled in March 2001 after some captive flight test were made.

Version Aircraft Stage 1
X-34A L-1011 X-34A / FASTRAC

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