Dec 312011

Boeing is unsurprisingly interested in expanding the utilization of their X-37 program. One concept that has been studied is the X-37C, which is a 165% scaleup of the X-37B designed for cargo and passenger transport to and from the ISS. It would be launched as a payload atop something like the Lockheed Martin Atlas V.

As a passenger transport, it could carry up to seven crewmembers.  This would make it an adequate replacement for the Space Shuttle which could, in theory, transport fifty or more (using a payload bay passenger module) but never carried more than 7. As a cargo carrier, it would be of minimal value; the Atlas V launch vehicle could transport a far larger payload sans X-37C.

 Posted by at 4:00 am
  • sjv

    never carried more than 7

    Rarely carried more than 7. STS 61-A had a crew of eight, and the STS-71 flight to Mir returned to Earth with eight (though launched with seven).

  • James

    A larger X-37 would be an interesting vehicle. I wonder what the turn-around time would be compared to the shuttle. BTW, STS-61-A carried 8 crew. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t we already decide that wings sticking out at the pointy end of a launcher was a bad idea?

    • Anonymous

      Depends on the size of the wings, how much pitch moment they impart.

      • Anonymous

        Did we ever get to wind-tunnel testing of the Titan IIIC/Dyna-Soar stack before McNamara killed it?

        • Anonymous

          Yes. I have some of the original Martin wind tunnel test reports.

          Early Titan III/DS designs featured large fins on the aft end of the solid rocket motors used to counter the pitch moment of the DS wings. By the end of the program, though, the fins disappeared. The thrust vectoring capability of the SRMs was found to be sufficient to do the job.

  • its success depends from real costs per each manned launch

  • Murgatroyd

    If there’s ever an X-37C fleet, I wonder they’ll christen one of the craft the Corvair?

  • Marco

    Well, this era is looking ever more a repetition of late ’60s, in space and more… The X-37C is the exact analogue of the unpowered glider ontop the Titan III that was the real competitior to Shuttle had the OMB had their way in 1971. Which in turn was an evolution of the NASA-studied logistical carrier for space stations in mid ’60s…. Oh well, better this than nothing.

  • Jeff Wright

    I can’t help but wonder if Falcon 9 heavy might be a better choice of LV. That would allow for a more capable craft perhaps large enough to have self ferry jets and in-flight refueling–something more akin to a spacePLANE than just a dedstick SPACEplane.

    Something I was thinking about the other day. Imagine a smaller spaceplane with landing gear that extends out and down from the fuselage, with landing jets and all high value equipment on said fuselage, with a snap fit lower wing that can be switched out and replaced after every launch…