Japan’s Space Shuttle Test Vehicle Makes Second Flight

By Keith Cowing
November 5, 2002
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An unmanned, jet powered model of Japan’s proposed Hope-X space shuttle completed a second test flight on Christmas Island in the Republic of Kiribati today. In addition to serving as the test site for the High Speed Flight Demonstration program, this island also serves as the location of NASDA’s Christmas Downrange Tracking Station.

The test vehicle, a 1/4 scale model of Hope-X, was developed by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL). The vehicle is 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) long and weighs 735 kg (1620 pounds).

During this flight, the test vehicle reached an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) – 1,900 meters (6,233 feet) higher than the previous flight. The plane also went faster than the previous flight reaching a top speed of 342 kph (212 mph)

During an earlier flight on 18 October 2002, the flight the test vehicle reached a maximum speed of 209 kph (130 mph) and an altitude of nearly 600 meters (2,000 feet). The vehicle then landed automatically on a runway.

This flight was part of Phase 1 in the vehicle’s test program. There will be one more flight in phase 1 where the test vehicle will reach an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,404 feet).

Phase II will include launches of a powered test vehicle from a balloon developed in cooperation with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC).

Related links

  • Video of today’s test flight can be downloaded from NASDA.
  • Phase 1 Information, NASDA
  • SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.