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starship-design: FW: SSRT: X-33 Thermal Protection System Test Complete (fwd)

-----Original Message-----
From: listserv@ds.cc.utexas.edu [mailto:listserv@ds.cc.utexas.edu] On
Behalf Of Chris W. Johnson
Sent: Friday, July 03, 1998 6:11 PM
To: Single Stage Rocket Technology News
Subject: SSRT: X-33 Thermal Protection System Test Complete (fwd)

Jim Cast
Headquarters, Washington, DC                         June 30, 1998
(Phone:  202/358-1779)

Fred A. Brown
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
(Phone:  805/258-2663)

Dom Amatore
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
(Phone:  256/544-0031)

Ron Lindeke
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, CA
(Phone:  805/572-4153)

RELEASE:  98-117


     NASA's F-15B Aerodynamic Flight Facility aircraft has
successfully completed flight testing of Thermal Protection System
(TPS) materials for the X-33 Advanced Technology Demonstrator at
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA.

     Six flights were flown to test the durability of the TPS
materials at flight velocities above the speed of sound, providing
data to the X-33 demonstrator program team.  The X-33 is scheduled
to begin test flights in July 1999.

     "This is an excellent example of all the testing the X-33
program is performing on the challenging technologies we need for
a reusable launch vehicle," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's X-33 deputy
program manager.

     Thermal protection systems are used on spacecraft to protect
them during flight, primarily as a "heat shield" during reentry
into Earth's atmosphere.  Though the X-33 is a sub-orbital
technology demonstrator for an eventual commercially developed and
operated single-stage-to-orbit launch system, the X-33 will
encounter an extreme heating environment similar to what such a
vehicle will encounter during orbital spaceflight and atmospheric

     The F-15B reached an altitude of 36,000 feet and a top speed
of Mach 1.4 during the flight series.  No damage or signs of wear
from high speed or maneuvering were apparent on any of the TPS
materials, providing further confidence to the X-33 team in the
ability of the materials to successfully protect the X-33 and
follow-on vehicles in the harsh environment in which they will

     "With the F-15B we were able to accomplish the X-33 TPS
durability flights in a timely and cost-effective manner," said
Roy Bryant, Dryden's F-15B project manager.  "The X-33 TPS team is
very happy with the data obtained during these tests.  A satisfied
customer indicates a job well done by the F-15 project team."

     The TPS material samples include metallic Inconel tiles, soft
Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation tiles and sealing
materials.  They were flown attached to the forward-left side
position of the F-15B's Flight Test Fixture II, a device attached
underneath the aircraft to carry experiments.  In-flight video
from the aircraft's onboard video system and chase aircraft photo
and video cameras documented the condition of the TPS materials
during flights.

     "I appreciated the expeditious manner in which this flight
project was accomplished," said Gary Trippensee, Dryden's X-33
project manager.  "The combined B.F. Goodrich Co., Richfield, OH;
NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; and Dryden test
team provided valuable X-33 TPS flight qualification data
efficiently and timely," Trippensee said.


NOTE TO EDITORS:  Photos are available to media representatives
from NASA Headquarters by calling 202/358-1900; from the Dryden
Photo Archive by calling 805/258-2664; or on the World Wide Web