The X-38 research vehicle built as an emergency Crew Return Vehicle (CRV), descends under its steerable parachute.

The featured image was taken during July 1999 test flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.

It was the fourth free flight of the test vehicles in the X-38 program, and the second free flight test of Vehicle 132 or Ship 2.

The goal of this flight was to release the vehicle from a higher altitude (31,500 feet) and to fly the vehicle longer (31 seconds) than any previous X-38 vehicle had yet flown. The project team also conducted aerodynamic verification maneuvers and checked improvements made to the drogue parachute.

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The X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) research project is designed to develop the technology for a prototype emergency crew return vehicle, or lifeboat, for the International Space Station. The project is also intended to develop a crew return vehicle design that could be modified for other uses, such as a joint U.S. and international human spacecraft that could be launched on the French Ariane-5 Booster.

The X-38 project is using available technology and off-the- shelf equipment to significantly decrease development costs.  The X-38 project was cancelled in 2002 for budget reasons.  For a blog on the X-38 see The Saga of the X-38 . With text from NASA on the Commons.

Close-up view of the X-38 (Crew Return Vehicle) under the wing of NASA's B-52 mothership prior to launch of the lifting-body research vehicle. The photo was taken from the observation window of the B-52 bomber as it banked in flight. NASA Public Domain photo

Close-up view of the X-38 (Crew Return Vehicle) under the wing of NASA’s B-52 mothership prior to launch of the lifting-body research vehicle. The photo was taken from the observation window of the B-52 bomber as it banked in flight. NASA Public Domain photo

The X-38 research vehicle drops away from NASA's B-52 mothership immediately after being released from the B-52's wing pylon. More than 30 years earlier, this same B-52 launched the original lifting-body vehicles flight tested by NASA and the Air Force at what is now called the Dryden Flight Research Center and the Air Force Flight Test Center. NASA B-52 Tail Number 008 is an air launch carrier aircraft "mothership," as well as a research aircraft platform that has been used on a variety of research projects. NASA Public Domain photo

The X-38 research vehicle drops away from NASA’s B-52 mothership immediately after being released from the B-52’s wing pylon. More than 30 years earlier, this same B-52 launched the original lifting-body vehicles flight tested by NASA and the Air Force at what is now called the Dryden Flight Research Center and the Air Force Flight Test Center. NASA B-52 Tail Number 008 is an air launch carrier aircraft “mothership,” as well as a research aircraft platform that has been used on a variety of research projects. NASA Public Domain photo

The X-38 is seen just before touchdown on a lakebed near the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards California, at the end of a March 2000 test flight. NASA Public Domain photo

The X-38 is seen just before touchdown on a lakebed near the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards California, at the end of a March 2000 test flight. NASA Public Domain photo

NASA's X-38 Crew Rescue Vehicle. Te spacecraft was to serve as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. It could carry seven passengers to safety. As it approached Earth, it would paraglide to the surface. NASA Public Domain photo

NASA’s X-38 Crew Rescue Vehicle. The spacecraft was to serve as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. It could carry seven passengers to safety. As it approached Earth, it would paraglide to the surface. NASA Public Domain photo

X-38 read entry, at Evergreen Air Museum Photo by wacamerabuff copyright

X-38 read entry, at Evergreen Air Museum 2014 Photo by wacamerabuff copyright

The X-38, a research vehicle built to help develop technology for an emergency Crew Return Vehicle (CRV), descends under its steerable parachute during a July 1999 test flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. It was the fourth free flight of the test vehicles in the X-38 program, and the second free flight test of Vehicle 132 or Ship 2.  (S. Rankin Creative Commons photo)

The X-38, a research vehicle built to help develop technology for an emergency Crew Return Vehicle (CRV), descends under its steerable parachute during a July 1999 test flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. It was the fourth free flight of the test vehicles in the X-38 program, and the second free flight test of Vehicle 132 or Ship 2. (S. Rankin Creative Commons photo)

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