Glitch scotches aircraft test

first_imgEDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – The planned first flight of an unmanned Defense Department experimental aircraft was called off Friday because of a technical glitch with a data link. The engineless X-37 was carried aloft by a jet mothership Friday morning from Mojave Airport, but the test was halted because of technical problems with a microwave data link from the test range. A new date to try the flight has not yet been determined. The mothership landed back at Mojave without releasing the X-37, which under the original plan was to glide to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base. The X-37’s mothership is the White Knight, the aircraft used to take SpaceShipOne aloft for its sub-orbital space flights in 2004. Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company, the designer and builder of the White Knight and SpaceShipOne, was hired by Boeing, X-37’s prime contractor, for the X-37 flight tests. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 The X-37 was designed to advance technologies that could be used in future spacecraft, including new thermal-protection systems, composite materials and advanced navigation and control systems. The aircraft was built by a small cadre of Boeing workers in Palmdale. The X-37 initially was funded under a $173 million contract in 1999, with the costs being shared by NASA, Boeing and the Air Force. The Air Force later dropped out of the program. Work on the experimental aircraft continued under a $301 million contract to support a now-canceled effort to develop a manned spacecraft to augment the space shuttle fleet. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency later picked up the sponsorship of the program to aid programs looking to advance cost-effective, reliable access to space. DARPA is the same agency that spurred the early secret development of the F-117A stealth fighter and the Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. The X-37 was one of three X-plane projects launched during the Clinton administration to test technologies for future spacecraft. The others, X-33 and X- 34, were canceled after technical difficulties and cost overruns. Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img