The X-40A vehicle successfully performed a fourth 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 15,170 feet (nearly 4,625 meters)
and released at 7:14 a.m., reaching a speed of 151 feet per second, to
complete the test when the wheels rolled to a stop at 7:16 a.m. PDT.

Today’s free flight demonstrated the vehicle’s ability to perform
side-to-side maneuvers, as well as its ability to maneuver to a safe landing
when released outside the nominal release altitude of 15,000 feet. A series
of up to seven free flights is planned.

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.

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.