Rockwell X-30

Rockwell X-30

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Rockwell X-30

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The X-30 National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) was a United States project to create a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) spacecraft. It was cancelled before a prototype was built.


NASP came from the "Copper Canyon" project, in Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), running from 1982 to 1985. In his 1986 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan called for "a new Orient Express that could, by the end of the next decade, take off from Dulles Airport, accelerate up to 25 times the speed of sound, attaining low earth orbit or flying to Tokyo within two hours."

Research suggested a maximum speed of Mach 8 for scramjet based aircraft, as the vehicle would generate heat due to atmospheric friction, which would thus cost considerable energy. The project showed that much of this energy could be recovered by passing hydrogen over the skin and carrying the heat into the combustion chamber: Mach 20 then seemed possible. The result was a program funded by NASA, and the United States Department of Defense (funding was approximately equally divided between NASA, DARPA,the US Air Force, the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (SDIO) and theUS Navy).

McDonnell Douglas, Rockwell International, and General Dynamics competed to develop technology for a hypersonic air-breathing SSTO vehicle. Rocketdyne and Pratt & Whitney competed to develop engines.

In 1990, the companies joined under the leadership of Rockwell International...
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