The unmanned, unpowered Boeing X-40A was the first-phase flight test vehicle for the U.S. Air Force’s Space Maneuver Vehicle program that began in the late 1990s. The program aimed to develop small, reusable, highly maneuverable spacecraft for deploying satellites and conducting surveillance and logistics missions.
This test aircraft is a 90 percent scale version of what would later be designated the X-37B space plane. The Boeing Co., in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, built the X-40A at Boeing’s Phantom Works facility at Seal Beach, Calif.
On Aug. 11, 1998, the X-40A made its first successful flight at Holloman AFB, N.M. A helicopter lifted it to about 10,000 feet and released it. The X-40A then made an unpowered flight demonstrating guidance, navigation,and control capabilities.
Following that flight, the USAF loaned the X-40A to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to test X-37 aerodynamics, guidance and other systems. After captive-carry flights to practice release procedures and test equipment, the X-40A made its first NASA flight on March 28, 2001. Released at 15,000 feet by a helicopter, the X-40A flew itself, guided by onboard systems, to a gentle landing at Edwards AFB, Calif. The X-40A made a total of seven successful flights in support of the X-37 program. This aircraft came to the museum in 2008.
Length: 22 feet
Span: 12 feet
Weight: 2,600 lbs.
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