News


Military Space Plane (U)

Overview (U):

(U) The Air Force's recent emphasis on protecting space assets and capabilities has renewed interest in developing a maneuverable and reusable space plane. Air Force Space Command initiated technology demonstrations and began research on developing a space plane concept. By 2002, the Air Force plans to have a space plane CONOPS and seek permission for a formal program. The White House line item vetoed $10 million earmarked for research in FY98. However, Phillips Laboratory is continuing work on the concept and awarded two $4 million dollar, 18 month contracts with possible $10 million dollars of follow-on work to continue developing an integrated test bed and its component technologies.

Details (U):

Description User Impact Programmatics Images
Related Initiatives Related Requirements Related Categories Road Map Placements
Additional Hotlinks Lead Office POC  


Description (U):

(U) The contract award also requires a draft design for a sub-orbital demonstrator with cost capped at $1 million. The Air Force hopes to augment NASA's R&D in the areas of reusable space vehicles. McDonnell Douglas is basing its design on the DC-X/XA vertical take-off and vertical landing system, while Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is proposing its X-33 reusable launch vehicle with vertical take-off and horizontal landing.

(U) Boeing recently unveiled its 90% scale prototype Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV) sponsored by Phillips Laboratory and Wright Laboratories. The roughly $5 million dollar SMV is a part of Phillip Laboratory's space plane technology testbed, which plans a series of ground and atmospheric demonstrations. The SMV was planned to be dropped in October from a UH-60 helicopter to test the aerodynamics of the vehicle's reentry. In the future, the unmanned and highly maneuverable vehicle could rapidly perform reconnaissance missions, deliver orbital payloads of approximately 1,200 pounds, or boost systems to higher orbits. The vehicle would have to be boosted into orbit but has the capability to autonomously return and land on a runway. The SMV is envisioned to complement a future space plane but spend much longer time, up to a year, in space.

(U) Despite FY98's line item veto, the Air Force may allocate another $10 million from FY99-FY02 to continue space plane research.

User Impact (U):

(U) To be supplied.

Programmatics (U):

(U) Concept/Technology.

Images (U):

(U) None.

Related Initiatives (U):
NameTitle
CAV for Military SpaceplaneCommon Aero-Vehicle (CAV) for Military Spaceplane (MSP)
CBM with Common Aero-VehicleConventional Ballistic Missile (CBM) with Common Aero-Vehicle (CAV)
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
NameTitle
LaunchDoD Space Launch Programs
Launch VehiclesLaunch Vehicles
SpaceliftSpacelift
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

NameTitle
Major DoD Space ProgramsEvolution of the Selected Space Programs
SPACE FORCES SUPPORTSPACE FORCES SUPPORT
This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

(U) None.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.

Point of Contact (U):

(U) Maj Mike LaPointe, NSSA, Open Phone: (703) 325-6422, DSN 221-6422.
(U) National Security Space Road Map Team, NSSA, Open Phone: (703)808-6040, DSN 898-6040.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 21 November 1997





(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999