X-20 Dynasoar in orbit
X-20 Dynasoar at sunrise
X-20 Dynasoar in reentry configuration
View of the X-20 cockpit. In addition to single crew member, payload bay behind cockpit could have accepted additional crew member or 450 kg military/scientific payload.
American Spaceplanes The X-20 Dynasoar (Dynamic Soaring) was a single-pilot manned spaceplane, really the earliest American manned space project to result in fabrication of hardware. It evolved from the German Sanger-Bredt Silverbird intercontinental skip-glide rocket bomber. Dornberger, former head of Peendmuende, was at Bell Aircraft in the 1950's and developed the Sanger-Bredt concept through various iterations (BOMI and HYFLEX?). In typical Pentagon fashion the final development contract went instead to Boeing. It went through many confusing incarnations and changes in purpose (manned space bomber, reconnaisance platform, high speed test vehicle), with the launch vehicles at various times including Titan I, Titan II, Saturn I, and finally Titan IIIC. Cancellation on December 10 1963 came only eight months from drop tests from a B-52 and a first manned flight in 1964. The Dynasoar itself would have been developed into Dynasoar II, III, and Dyna-MOWS (Manned Orbital Weapons System) versions which would have run the gamut of orbital supply, rendezvous and inspection, and orbital bombing. If things had ever taken this course, the Dynasoar itself, which had severely limited internal payload and volume aside from the single pilot, would probably have been substantially redesigned or replaced by a lifting body design for later phases. After its cancellation, the Air Force pursued futher development of manned spaceplanes through the PRIME, ASSET, X-23, and X-24 programs, with suborbital launch of subscale lifting body designs and B-52 drop tests of the X-24A and X-24B lifting body designs into the mid-1970's. Reportedly there was also a black program leading to suborbital flight and reentry of a full-size unmanned lifting body patterned after the NASA HL-10. In the end, the Air Force was pressured by the Nixon Administration to accept participation in the space shuttle program in lieu of separate development of their own designs. Major Events: .
NACA established "Round Three" Steering Committee to study feasiblity of a hypersonic boost-glide research airplane. "Round Three" was considered as the third major flight research program which started with the X-series of rocket-propelled supersonic research airplanes, and which considered the X-15 research airplane as the second major program. The boost-glide program eventually became known as DynaSoar.
Phase I development contract for Dyna-Soar boost-glide orbital spacecraft awarded by USAF to two teams of contractors headed by Martin Co. (Bell, American Machine & Foundry, Bendix, Goodyear, and Minneapolis-Honeywell) and the Boeing Co. (Aerojet, General Electric, Ramo-Wooldridge, North American, and Chance Vought).
Segmented solid-propellent rocket engine fired by United Technology Corp. at Sunnyvale, generating over 200,000 pounds of thrust in 80-second firing. Developed under NASA contract, center section of engine contained over 55,000 pounds of propellant, the largest single piece yet manufactured in the United States.
USAF awarded three contracts for speeding development of the Dyna-Soar, a manned orbital space glider. Receiving contracts were Boeing Co. for development of the glider and related systems, Radio Corp. of America for communications and tracking devices, and Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. for the guidance system.
Secretary of Defense McNamara announced that progress of the Administration's accelerated defense buildup made unnecessary the use of additional defense funds appropriate by the Congress above the amount requested by the administration. The Congress had voted $514.5 million for additional long-range bombers; $180 million additional for the B-70; and $85.8 million additional for Dyna-Soar.
Development time schedule for Dyna-Soar was reduced when DOD authorized the USAF to move directly from B-52 drop tests to unmanned and then manned orbital flights. This eliminated the previous interim stage of suborbital flights to be powered by the Titan II. This required renegotiation of the development contract held by the Martin Co. and negotiating of a new contract for a larger booster.