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Boeing X-40A

The Boeing X-40A Space Manoeuvre Vehicle was a test platform for the X-37 Future-X Reusable Launch Vehicle.

The first X-40 drop test occurred at Holloman AFB, New Mexico on August 11, 1998.

This was a joint Air Force / Boeing project known as the Space Manoeuvre Vehicle.

It was released from an altitude of approximately 9,200 feet (2,800 m) and 2.5 miles (4.0 km) away from the end of Runway 04 by a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter

The vehicle dove to the runway in an approach similar to the space shuttle’s, flared, and landed left of the runway centreline.

Its drag chutes successfully deployed, and the vehicle tracked to within 7 feet (2.1 m) of the centreline and stopped at a distance of slightly more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m).

The unpiloted X-40 was built to 85% scale to test aerodynamics and navigation of the X-37 Future-X Reusable Launch Vehicle project.

After the first drop test in August 1998 the vehicle was transferred to NASA, which modified it.

Between April 4 and May 19, 2001, the vehicle successfully conducted seven free flights.

In 2001 it successfully demonstrated the glide capabilities of the X-37’s fat-bodied, short-winged design and validated the proposed guidance system.



21 ft (6.4 m)


11 ft (3.4 m)


7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)

Empty weight

2,500 lb (1,134 kg)

Useful load

1,200 lb (540 kg)


Maximum speed

300 mph (480 km/h, 260 kn)


Honeywell 12-channel Space Integrated GPS/INS (SIGI) system.


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