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US Rocketplanes
Category of spacecraft.


XS-1 American manned rocketplane. Design begun 1943. Also known as the X-1. This rocket plane was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, and the first in a line of X- aircraft leading to the space shuttle.

MX-324 Northrop manned rocketplane. Flown 1944. First U.S. military rocket-powered plane.

XP-79 Northrop manned rocket-propelled flying wing fighter. Abandoned when pilot was killed in first test flight with turbojet engines in 1945.

X-2 American manned rocketplane. Design began 1945. X-2 was an AAF/ Bell project that flew three supersonic flight research aircraft, powered by liquid rockets. Originally designated XS-2.

D-558-1 American manned high-speed research aircraft. Flown 1947-1953. The D-558-I "Skystreaks" were among the early transonic research airplanes like the X-1, X-4, X-5, and XF-92A.

XP-92 American manned delta-wing rocketplane. Never flown with rockets, but flew as a turbojet-powered research aircraft, 1948-1953.

XF-91 American manned rocketplane. The Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor was a mixed-power interceptor, being powered by both a jet engine and by a battery of rocket motors. Although it showed promise, it was not put into production.

D-558-2 American manned rocketplane. Flown from 1949. Research airplane Douglas D-558. Airplane had both jet and rocket engines and was flown from ground takeoff. The D-558-II Skyrocket exceeded the speed of sound at Edwards AFB, Calif.

X-1D American manned rocketplane. Study 1953. The X-1A, B, and D were essentially identical rocketplanes intended to reach speeds above Mach 2.

Bomi Bell manned skip-glide space bomber project of the early 1950's. Predecessor to Dynasoar.

MX-2145 American manned combat spacecraft. In May 1953 the Air Force funded Boeing to study their MX-2145 boost-glide vehicle as a successor to the B-58 supersonic medium-range bomber. This was a competitor to Bell's BOMI.

X-1A American manned rocketplane. Study 1951. The X-1A, B, and D were essentially identical rocketplanes intended to reach speeds above Mach 2.

X-15A American air-launched manned spaceplane, used for hypersonic research. 174 launches, 1959.06.08 (X-15 Flight 1) to 1968.10.24 (X-15 Flight 199). The X-15 was the first USAF and NASA project for manned spaceflight, initiated years before Mercury.

X-1B American manned rocketplane. Flown 1952. The X-1A, B, and D were essentially identical rocketplanes intended to reach speeds above Mach 2.

D-558-3 American manned rocketplane. Flown 1954. The D-558-3 was a US Navy/Douglas counterpart to the X-15, which would have kept the Navy in the 'space race' and Douglas in the running for future manned spaceplanes.

FJ-4F American manned rocketplane. The FJ-4F was a US Navy Fury fighter fitted with a Rocketdyne AR1 engine for quick intercept of Soviet bombers. Two prototypes were tested which reached Mach 1.41 at 22 km altitude.

X-1E American manned rocketplane. Study 1954. The X-1E was designed to test an ultra-thin 4% thickness to cord wing for supersonic flight.

Brass Bell American manned combat spacecraft. Study 1956. Hypersonic manned reconnaissance spaceplane project of the 1950's. Predecessor to Dynasoar.

Hywards American manned combat spacecraft. Study 1956. Hypersonic manned test spaceplane project of the 1950's. Predecessor to Dynasoar.

Bell Rocket Transport 1957 American manned rocketplane. Proposed 1957 civilian transport version of Bomi rocket bomber. Bell was unable to interest any airlines in putting up the development funds for the project.

Ames Mach 10 Demonstrator American manned spaceplane. Ames proposed in 1957 to air-launch a high-wing designed hypersonic glider from a B-36 bomber. Early versions would use an XLR-99-powered booster stage and be capable of reaching Mach 6.

SAINT II American manned combat spacecraft. Cancelled 1961. At the beginning of the 1960's, the USAF examined a number of approaches to a manned spacecraft designed to rendezvous with, inspect, and then, if necessary, destroy enemy satellites.

NF-104 American manned rocketplane. Study 1959. The NF-104 aerospace trainer was a modified F-104A fighter, incorporating an LR-121 liquid fuel rocket engine in addition to the conventional J-79 turbojet engine.

Bell Hypersonic Rocket Transport 1960 American manned rocketplane. In March 1960 Bell proposed a revised hypersonic transport design based on its work on boost-glide vehicles during the 1950's. There was no government or airline interest in the concept.

FIRST Re-Entry Glider American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1960. FIRST (Fabrication of Inflatable Re-entry Structures for Test) used an inflatable Rogallo wing for emergency return of space crew from orbit.

M2-F2 American manned spaceplane. Study 1966. The least stable of the lifting body designs. The 'flying bathtub' had a rounded belly / flat top layout as opposed to the flat belly / rounded top of the other designs.

Convair Shuttlecraft American manned spaceplane. Study 1962. Convair concept for a winged shuttle vehicle, early 1960's.

Asset American manned spaceplane. 6 launches, 1963.09.18 (ASSET 1) to 1965.02.23 (ASSET 6). One part of the Dynasoar manned spaceplane project was ASSET ( 'Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests') .

Dynasoar American manned spaceplane. Cancelled 1963. The X-20A Dynasoar (Dynamic Soarer) was a single-pilot manned reusable spaceplane, really the earliest American manned space project to result in development contracts.

Astrocommuter American manned spaceplane. The Lockheed Astrocommuter was a 1963 design for a manned space shuttle that would use the Saturn 1B as a first stage.

Lockheed Space Taxi American manned spaceplane. Study 1963. Lockheed investigated the economics of reusable launch vehicles for crews and light space station cargo during the early 1960s. Lockheed proposed a new reusable 10-man spaceplane as a follow-on to the Apollo CSM.

Lockheed RTTOCV Lockheed sled-launched ten-crew winged orbital launch vehicle design of 1963, a result of NASA-funded studies with several contractors on Operations and Logistics for Space Stations.

McDonnell Spaceplane 1963 American manned spaceplane. Study 1963. In June 1962 NASA funded studies with several contractors on Operations and Logistics for Space Stations.

Re-Entry Glider-Six Crew American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1963. A six-man parasail escape system was studied as an elaboration of the single-crew system. It was to provide rescue from manned spacecraft as well as stations.

X-15A-2 American manned spaceplane. The crash-damaged X-15 number 2 was rebuilt to attain even higher speeds. The body frame was stretched, and two drop tanks were added, increasing propellant load by 75%. Reached Mach 6.7 and 108 km altitude.

Janus American manned spaceplane. Study 1965. This TRW design of 1965 used a unique concept - a lifting body main stage, that provided both ascent propulsion and re-entry protection.

M2-F3 American manned spaceplane. 43 launches, 1966.07.12 to 1971.12.21 . The crashed M2-F2 was rebuilt as the M2-F3 with enlarged vertical stabilizers. Maximum speed achieved was Mach 1.6, top altitude 21,800 m.

Prime American manned spaceplane. 3 launches, 1966.12.21 (Prime 1) to 1967.04.19 (Prime 3). The Prime (Precision Recovery Including Maneuvering Entry) project was the second part of the USAF START program.

HL-10 American manned spaceplane. 37 launches, 1966.12.22 to 1970.07.17 . The HL-10 was the favored lifting body configuration of NASA Langley in the 1960's. It reached Mach 1.86 and 27,700 m during its flight tests.

Boost Glide Re-entry Vehicle American re-entry vehicle technology satellite. The Boost Glide Re-entry Vehicle investigated related technological problems, particularly hypersonic maneuvering after re-entry into the atmosphere.

X-15A-3 American manned spaceplane. Cancelled 1962. It had been proposed that X-15 number 3 would be reworked to install a delta wing and designed to reach Mach 8.

X-24A American manned spaceplane. 28 launches, 1969.04.17 to 1971.06.04 . The X-24A was the Martin Corporation's subsonic test version of the US Air Force's preferred manned lifting body configuration.

Mini-shuttle American manned rocketplane. Study 1972. In August 1972 it was proposed to test a subscale version of the shuttle to test the aerodynamics. The 13,750 kg vehicle would be 11 m long and have a wingspan of 7 m.

X-24B American manned spaceplane. 36 launches, 1973.08.01 to 1975.11.26 .

Space Cruiser American manned combat spacecraft. Study 1973. The space cruiser was a US Navy design for a single-place crewed space interceptor designed to destroy Soviet satellites used to track the location of US warships.

Enterprise American manned spaceplane. Study 1974. Enterprise was the first Space Shuttle Orbiter. It was rolled out on September 17, 1976.

X-24C American manned spaceplane. Cancelled 1977. Two X-24C NHFRF (National Hypersonic Flight Research Facility) aircraft were to be built under a $ 200 million budget.

Columbia American manned spaceplane. Columbia, the first orbiter in the Shuttle fleet, was named after the sloop that accomplished the first American circumnavigation of the globe.

Sortie Vehicle American manned spacecraft, launched from atop a Boeing 747. DARPA study of 1982.

Challenger American manned spaceplane.

Discovery American manned spaceplane. merican manned spaceplane.

Atlantis American manned spaceplane. The space shuttle Atlantis was the fourth orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center, and the last of the original production run.

NASA ACRV American manned spaceplane. Assured Crew Return Vehicle or Astronaut Crew Rescue Vehicle. Study 1986. The early Space Station proposals assumed the facility would be equipped with a 'safe haven' where the crew would wait for a rescue Shuttle in case of emergency.

HL-20 American manned spaceplane. The HL-20 was a 1988 NASA Langley design for a manned spaceplane as a backup to the space shuttle (in case it was abandoned or grounded) and as a CERV (Crew Emergency Return Vehicle) for the Freedom space station.

Blackstar American manned spaceplane. 2006 reports claimed it was flown covertly in the 1990s. If so, it may have derived from the Isinglass studies of the late 1960's.

Endeavour American manned spaceplane. merican manned spaceplane. Built as a replacement after the loss of the Challenger; named after the first ship commanded by James Cook.

HGV American spaceplane. Study 1992. The Hypersonic Glide Vehicle was a USAF project discussed openly in 1987 to 1988, which may have flown as a black project in 1992-1993.

Black Colt American manned single-crew spaceplane, follow-up to Black Horse concept. In comparison to Black Horse, used existing engines and a much more achievable mass fraction by only flying to half orbital speed.

X-38 American manned spaceplane. Lifting body reentry vehicle designed as emergency return spacecraft for International Space Station crew.

HL-42 American manned spaceplane. The HL-42 was a reusable, lifting body manned spacecraft designed in 1997 to be placed into low-Earth orbit by an expendable booster.

X-43 American spaceplane. Study 1997. NASA's X-43 Hyper-X program demonstrated an integrated hypersonic scramjet engine briefly at Mach 10 on its third and final flight.

Roton The American Roton company developed this unique manned SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle until it was cancelled in 2000. The Roton was a piloted commercial space vehicle design intended to provide rapid and routine access to orbit for both its two-person crew and their cargo.

X-37 American unmanned spaceplane. The Boeing X-37 Space Maneuver Vehicle began as a subscale version of a proposed USAF manned 21st Century spaceplane. The smaller-scale X-40 tested some technologies prior to completion of the X-37A. The X-37B was the reusable space vehicle.

X-40 American unmanned spaceplane. Boeing X-40A Experimental Space Maneuver Vehicle was built to test landing technologies for the later X-37.

Rocketplane XP American manned spaceplane. Study 2015. The Rocketplane XP Vehicle was a proposed suborbital manned spaceplane with accommodations for four crew.

Dream Chaser American manned spaceplane. A six-passenger human space transport system announced in 2006 by SpaceDev, based on the ten-passenger HL-20 Personnel Launch System developed by NASA Langley in the 1980's.

Xerus American manned spaceplane. Study 2016. Suborbital vehicle that XCOR planned to design and build on a commercial basis. Rocket powered, it would take off from a runway, and be capable of high altitude, high speed flight.

Douglas Astro American winged orbital launch vehicle. The Douglas "Astro" was a VTHL TSTO system designed for launching space station crews and cargo by the 1968-70 period. A key requirement was that off-the-shelf technologies must be used, e.g. existing M-1, J-2 and RL-10 engines from the Saturn and Nova expendable launch vehicle programs.

Martin Astrorocket Martin winged orbital launch vehicle design of 1962. Early two-stage-to-orbit shuttle study, using storable propellants, Dynasoar-configuration delta wing orbiter and booster.

NAA RTTOCV NASA awarded a "Reusable Ten Ton Orbital Carrier Vehicle" contract worth $342,000 to North American Aviation. The final concept from 1963 was quite similar to Lockheed's System III design. The launch capability was 11,340 kg (25,000 lb) and the standard payload would have consisted of a small lenticular 12-man orbital transfer vehicle spaceplane for space station logistics and crew transfer.

Reusable Orbital Carrier American sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. The Reusable Orbital Carrier (ROC) was a 1964 Lockheed study of a sled-launched HTHL TSTO. The booster's rocket engines would burn liquid oxygen and jet fuel while small turbojets would be used for landing approach. The 2nd stage orbiter rocketplane would make an unpowered glide return and landing. LOX, LH2 rocket propulsion would be used on the second stage. The gross liftoff weight would be about 453t and the vehicle could deliver ten passengers+3000kg to a space station. Alternatively, an unmanned 11,340kg payload could be carried.

Isinglass CIA air-launched, single-crew, rocket-powered high speed manned vehicle project of 1965-1968 that developed basic technologies used in later shuttle and reusable launch vehicle programs.

Copper Canyon American winged orbital launch vehicle. DARPA program of 1984 that proved the technologies and concept for the X-30 National Aerospace Plane concept.

TAV American winged single-crew rocketplane. USAF program of the 1980's that reached the test hardware stage and was leading to a single-stage-to-orbit, rocket-powered, winged manned vehicle. Halted in favour of the X-30 National Aerospace Plane, and then the similar X-33.

X-30 American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Air-breathing scramjet single stage to orbit. Second attempt after study of similar proposal in early 1960's. Cancelled due to cost, technical challenges. Superseded by X-33 rocket-powered SSTO.

Black Horse American winged, single-crew, single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle using aerial refueling and lower performance, non-cryogenic propellants.

Astroliner American air-launched orbital launch vehicle. The Kelly Space & Technology Astroliner Space Launch System was a two-stage-to-orbit, towed space launch concept. Towing an aerodynamic vehicle to an altitude of 6,000 m yielded higher system performance due to vacuum engine performance, reduced drag and gravity losses, and aerodynamic lift during flight.

Pathfinder Pioneer Rocketplane two-crew single-stage-to-orbit aerial-refueled spaceplane design of 2003. It elaborated on the Black Horse and Black Colt concepts of the 1990's.

Venturestar American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Production reusable single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle using technology developed in X-33 test bed.

Stages: X-34.

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