Photos: Not every NASA project gets the green light


X-38; 1995 – 2002; perhaps $100 million.

Source:  New Scientist

X-38; 1995 – 2002; perhaps $100 million.

Meant primarily as a "lifeboat" for the space station, the X-38 was a wingless vehicle whose body shape was designed to provide some lift, giving it the ability to do controlled gliding flights and to be guided to a desired point before its parachute was deployed for landing. It was developed in-house at NASA's Johnson Space Center, with some later European involvement, but was cancelled as part of space-station revisions provoked by station cost overruns. It was replaced by the EELV-launched Orbital Space Plane (OSP), which eventually merged into the Constellation programme currently planned to replace the space shuttle. In this image, a prototype of the X-38 crew lifeboat drops away from a plane during a 13-minute test flight in late 2001. (Image: NASA-DFRC)


Facing budget and technical concerns, NASA may abandon the development of its Ares rockets. Here, amateur space historian Henry Spencer looks back at other big NASA projects that never got off the ground.
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