Rockwell X-30

The Rockwell X-30 National Aero - Space Plane ( NASP; German: national air - space plane ) was an attempt by the U.S. to build a spaceship that should go into orbit with only an air-breathing stage. The project was set before the first aircraft was built.


The NASP arose from a Copper Canyon called the DARPA project, which ran from 1982 to 1985. 1986 called President Ronald Reagan in his State of the Nation on the recording of this project. The project was funded by NASA and the United States Department of Defense. McDonnell Douglas, Rockwell International and General Dynamics competed for the development contract for the air-breathing supersonic spacecraft. Rocketdyne and Pratt & Whitney competed for the development of the engines.

In 1990, the company united under the leadership of Rockwell International, to cope with the massive technical and financial obstacles to their forces. The development of the X-30 was continued until 1993, when it was finally set for reasons of cost.


The X-30 was mainly a highly integrated engine. The shovel-like shaped forward fuselage compressed air before entering into the engine. The rear fuselage section formed a kind of nozzle to the exhaust jet to expand again. The engine was designed as a ramjet with supersonic combustion (English scramjet ). Until that time, however, a scramjet has never been successfully tested.

The X-30 was designed aerodynamically as Waverider. The majority of the lift should be achieved by the compression boost. The wings were designed only as small fins in order to influence the attitude can. This interpretation would have been very efficient in high-speed flight, but had made ​​off and landing extremely complicated.

It was assumed that the temperature would be in most parts of the surface of the X - 30 to 980 ° C and leading edges and to the engine up to 1,650 ° C. This fact made ​​it necessary to develop new lightweight and heat resistant materials. These new materials gamma - and alpha - titanium aluminide reinforced carbon - carbon and titanium matrix composite with silicon carbide fibers counted. The McDonnell Douglas team used titanium matrix composite to build a task called D part of the hull as a model. In this body part then a tank for cryogenic hydrogen from carbon fiber has been integrated. Shortly before the end of the program in 1992, Task D has been successfully tested under mechanical load and 820 ° C.

Although the structure and drive problems considerably progress has been made, the NASP had to overcome tremendous obstacles. The Department of Defense requested that the X-30 should be able to transport a crew of two and some payload. As a manned spacecraft, the X-30 would, however, avionic instruments, environmental controls and comprehensive safety equipment needed, which would have made the spacecraft significantly heavier and had exceeded the performance of the demonstrator. Therefore, the project was canceled and created on the basis of the X - 30, the much smaller and less powerful X -43.

During the development of the X-30, it also turned out that the margin required in an orbit speed of Mach 25 was not attainable with the scramjet.


Related Topics