National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

Dryden Flight Research Center

P.O. Box 273

Edwards, California 93523

Voice 661-276-3449

FAX 661-276-3566

For Release

Leslie Williams

July 10, 2000

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

(661) 276-3893

RELEASE: 00-50


The proposed NASA Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) for the International Space
Station reaches another milestone with the arrival of a more complex
prototype, X-38 Vehicle 131R, to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center,
Edwards, Calif., on July 11 at approximately 1:00 p.m. Pacific time.
Atmospheric drop tests of the X-38 prototypes will continue at Dryden for
the next two years using increasingly complex test vehicles. Vehicle 131
was the first X-38 prototype, and flew three free flights before being
shipped to Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas for modifications, becoming

Vehicle 131R will be transported in Johnson’s Super Guppy cargo airplane,
regularly used to carry space station elements from manufacturers to the
launch site, Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The Super Guppy’s 25-foot diameter
fuselage is designed to handle oversize loads. It provides flexibility in
transportation by vaulting over constraints such as railroad and highway

A radical modification to a 50-year-old Stratocruiser propeller-driven
transport design, the Super Guppy is part of a family of huge modified
cargo aircraft that began in the 1960s with a transporter for sections of
the Saturn moon rocket. The combination of the venerable Super Guppy and
the new X-38 provides a striking contrast that helps visually define
America’s long ongoing journey into space.

The primary objectives for V-131R flights are to evaluate its new
aerodynamic shape, which more closely resembles the CRV, test the 7,500
square-foot parafoil with the modified X-38 lifting body shape, and the new
drogue chute, both of which will actually be used on the CRV.

The upcoming flights of V-131R mark the beginning of international
participation in flight testing of the European Space Agency’s guidance and
navigation software to be used on the CRV. A European engineer will also
be in the control room to monitor the software operation. A captive-carry
flight for V-131R is slated for end of this summer and a free flight
planned by year’s end.

When operational, the CRV would be an emergency vehicle to return up to
seven ISS crewmembers to Earth. It would be carried to the space station in
the cargo bay of a space shuttle, then attached to an ISS
docking port. If an emergency arises that forces the ISS crew to leave the
space station, the CRV would be undocked and -after a deorbit engine
burn-would return to Earth much like a space shuttle.


Media interested in covering the X-38 arrival must contact Dryden Public
Affairs at 661-276-3449. Still photos and video footage will be available
from the Dryden Public Affairs Office to support this release after arrival
and unloading of the X-38. Photos will also be available on the Internet
under NASA Dryden Research Aircraft Photo Archive, Dryden News and Feature
Photos, URL:
NASA Dryden news releases are also available on the Internet at: