The X-40A vehicle successfully performed a third free flight test
today at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif. The X-40A
was lifted by an Army Chinook helicopter to an altitude of 14,975
feet (4564 meters) and released at 7:33 a.m. PDT, reaching a speed of
about 430 feet (131 meters) per second to complete the test when the
wheels rolled to a stop at 7:35 a.m. PDT.

“I’m very pleased with the near flawless performance of the X-40A,”
said Susan Turner, NASA’s X-37 program manager at Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “This is our third successful
flight test of the vehicle, and each one enables us to better
understand the systems that later will guide the flight of the X-37.
This test program has been a team effort that all the partners can be
very proud of.”

The X-40A’s free flight and landing tests are being conducted as part
of NASA’s X-37 program, intended to reduce the risk of flight testing
the X-37 experimental re-entry vehicle. The X-37 will enable NASA to
test advanced technologies in the harsh environment of space and in
returning through Earth’s atmosphere. The X-40A is an 85 percent
scale version of the X-37.

Today’s X-40A test objectives focused on complex maneuvers, such as
monitoring vehicle performance during pitch adjustments – when the
nose is raised and lowered. A series of up to seven free flights is

The X-40A test vehicle, on loan from the Air Force, was built for the
Air Force by The Boeing Company at its Seal Beach, Calif., facility.
It was free flight tested once before, in August 1998 at Holloman Air
Force Base in southern New Mexico, for the Air Force’s Space Maneuver
Vehicle program.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., NASA’s lead center
for space transportation systems development, manages the X-37.
Dryden Flight Research Center is responsible for the X-37/X-40A
flight test activities. The helicopter and crew are from the U.S.
Army Aviation Technical Test Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.