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Reusable Vehicle Test at Noshiro Testing Center

A study for fully reusable rocket vehicle has been conducted for the future space transportation systems at ISAS/JAXA. A test vehicle was built for the design of such vehicle, and continuing flight test campaigns have been conducted in May 1999 and June 2001. This is Reusable Vehicle Testing (RVT) lesson campaign, which will give us an opportunity to exercise new design and operational aspect peculiar for the reusable rocket vehicle.

For the basic studies of “Fully Reusable Space Transportation System”, we still have so many things to do, both in higher performance oriented studies such as super light weight materials and structures and engines, and “Reusable System Architecture” such as to make aircraft type of repeated flight operation possible. There is a long way ahead before the readiness, and therefore the present study is just a starting point for our future.
The primary objectives of the RVT campaign are :

1) design and operational lessons in repeated flight of hydrogen fueled rocket and its turnaround, and
2) vertical landing flight of rocket propelled vehicle.

New flight test articles and technologies for the development of the vehicle are demonstrated in the repeated flight environment. The present flight test (RVT#3) is planned in the end of October and we plan to exercise more in :

1) design and verification of propulsion systems for repeated flight and its turnaround,
2) automatic vertical landing by engine throttling, and
3) composite cryogenic tank for light weight materials.

The test vehicle is propelled by a LOX/LH2 small rocket engine. The dry weight is about 500 kg, and the vehicle height is about 3.5 m. The test vehicle is able to take-off and land vertically, and fly for about 20 sec with 70 kg fuels. For the next study target, an exo-atmospheric ballistic flight vehicle based on the present concept is also proposed as an extension of this test vehicle studies.

October 15, 2003