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Credit: USAF. 24,562 bytes. 262 x 419 pixels.



Other Designations: ASV-3. Class: Manned. Type: Spaceplane. Nation: USA.

After the cancellation of Dynasoar, the Air Force pursued futher development of manned spaceplanes under the START Project. This included the ASSET and PRIME/X-23 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. The first of the series was a carry-over from the X-20 and was called ASSET ( 'Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests'). Project began in 1960, to use subscale models of X-20 Dynasoar to test materials prior to full-scale manned flights. Originally planned to use Scout launch vehicle, but switched to surplus Thor missiles returned from United Kingdom for 4,000 m/s flights and Thor-Delta for 6,000 m/s flights. After cancellation of Dynasoar, flights continued in order to obtain test data applicable to later spaceplanes. Aero-thermodynamic structural test vehicle (ASV) was used for heat shield tests. The spacecraft flew on a suborbital trajectory to the recovery zone at Ascension Island.


Specification

Total Length: 1.8 m. Maximum Diameter: 1.5 m. Total Mass: 540 kg. Electrical System: Batteries.


Asset Chronology


01 January 1960 ASSET Project begun.

ASSET ( 'Aerothermodynamic Elastic Structural Systems Environmental Tests') involved use subscale models of the X-20 Dynasoar to test materials prior to full-scale manned flights.


18 September 1963 ASSET 1 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Thor.

Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Aero-thermodynamic structural test vehicle (ASV) for heat shield tests. Booster flew to peak altitude of 62 km, then pitched down, driving the spacecraft to separation at 59 km and 4,906 m/s. The spacecraft was sited under its parachute in the recovery zone at Ascension Island, but the flotation bag broke and it sank into the Atlantic.


24 March 1964 ASSET 2 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Delta C. FAILURE: Second stage fired, then shut down, repeating the sequence several times.

Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Aero-thermodynamic structural test vehicle (ASV) for heat shield tests. Good first stage burn, but the second stage fired, then shut down, repeating the sequence several times. The spacecraft separated, and began to maneuver in a 60 degree bank to recover course, when the self-destruct package blew it apart. The debris impacted the Atlantic 800 km downrange near San Salvador Island.


22 July 1964 ASSET 3 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Delta C.

Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Aero-thermodynamic structural test vehicle (ASV) for heat shield tests. Launched after four hours of holds. Tested Dynasoar hardware - tungsten nose cap, molbdenum panels with vapor-deposited disilicide, and liquid-cooled double-walled cockpit bathtub panel. Reached 5,500 m/s and recovered near Ascension Island 12 hours after launch.


27 October 1964 ASSET 4 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Thor.

Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Aero-environmental test vehicle (AEV) to test aerodynamic properties of flexing outer skin with corrugated columbium panel. Reached 4,000 m/s at 50.6 km altitude before being released from launch vehicle. Telemetry received for 900 seconds until spaceplane had reached Mach 2 1200 km downrange. It then became unstable and crashed into the Atlantic. Recovery was not planned.


08 December 1964 ASSET 5 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Thor.


X-23AX-23A

Credit: USAF. 22,765 bytes. 394 x 258 pixels.


Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Aero-environmental test vehicle (AEV) to test aerodynamic properties of flexing outer skin with corrugated columbium panel. Reached 4,000 m/s at 53.2 km altitude before being released from launch vehicle. Telemetry received for 900 seconds until spaceplane had reached Mach 2 1200 km downrange. It then became unstable and crashed into the Atlantic. Recovery was not planned.
23 February 1965 ASSET 6 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Delta C.

Suborbital test of subscale model of X-20 Dynasoar. Reached 6,000 m/s and 4,350 km range. Tested twelve different kinds of refractory metals and covered with 2000 dots of heat-sensitive paint to characterize thermal profile on reentry. Telemetry indicated that the spacecraft survived reentry, but it evidently sank upon impacting the ocean and could not be recovered as planned.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .