WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- The Delta Clipper Experimental launch vehicle (DC-X) continued to push the limits during its seventh flight test today at 8:38 a.m. MDT at the Army's White Sands Missile Range.
A problem with the telemetry receiver link cancelled the test originally scheduled for June 2.
The single-stage, vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing rocket reached an altitude of 5,700 feet, 1,350 feet more than the last flight on May 16. In addition, the experimental vehicle increased its angle-of-attack maneuvers to gather data on aerodynamics and flight controls.
During the ascent, the DC-X traveled 1,950 feet down range and flew sideways at 110 feet per second back to the landing site. The DC-X descended at 200 feet per second as compared to the 145 foot per second rate of the earlier flight. Total flight time was 2 minutes and 12 seconds.
The DC-X, built by McDonnell Douglas, is managed by the Air Force Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., in support of the NASA reusable launch vehicle program. Air Force flight test support is provided by the Space and Missile Systems Center's Space and Missile Test and Evaluation Directorate, also at Kirtland, in support of the NASA reusable launch vehicle program.
A critical new technology demonstrated during this flight test was the first flight usage of four gaseous oxygen/hydrogen reaction control thrusters, demonstrating the ability to further control the vehicle, according to Pete Conrad, former astronaut and the McDonnell Douglas DC-X flight manager. In addition, the test further demonstrated other flight controls including differential engine throttling with reaction control system roll control and use of the flaps located on the sides of the vehicle.
Test plans call for up to two additional flights this year, with the next one slated for July 7. The flight tests will build up to high-angle-of-attack maneuvers with sweeps of up to 180 degrees to simulate the rotation maneuver that a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle would execute for a vertical landing.
At the conclusion of this year's flight tests, McDonnell Douglas will integrate key advanced technology components into the experimental vehicle under a series of cooperative agreements awarded by NASA.
Flight tests are scheduled to resume in 1996 and the vehicle will be called the DC-XA. The Air Force's Phillips Laboratory will act as NASA's deputy for Flight Test and Operations, managing the final DC-XA flights in 1996.