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X-38 successfully completes flight test
Posted: Tue, Jul 10, 2001, 7:06 PM ET (2306 GMT)
X-38 in free flight (NASA/DFRC) A prototype of a possible future crew return vehicle for the International Space Station made a successful test flight Tuesday. The X-38's flight began when it was dropped from a B-52 11,400 meters above Edwards Air Force Base, California. The vehicle made a 13-minute unpowered descent using a parafoil, gliding to a landing on a dry lake bed at the base at 2:00 pm EDT (1800 GMT). The flight, the seventh free flight for the X-38 dating back to 1998, tested a number of advances to the vehicle, including software developed by the European Space Agency that controls the X-38's giant parafoil. The test flight was originally scheduled for June 29 but delayed until after the Fourth of July holiday because of communications problems with ground stations. The X-38 is intended to be a prototype of a future crew return vehicle (CRV) for the station, but both the X-38 and the CRV itself are endangered by a budget overrun of more than $4 billion for NASA's portion of the ISS. This overrun has led NASA to consider dropping development of the CRV as well as scratch plans for an orbital test flight of the X-38 in 2003.
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