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For Release: July 10, 1996
CLIPPER GRAHAM FLIGHT #4 SCHEDULED FOR JULY 12
The "Clipper Graham" single-stage reusable rocket developed by NASA and McDonnell Douglas is scheduled to perform its fourth test flight at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 12, at the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The 43-foot-high rocket will reach an altitude of 4,100 feet and travel laterally 2,800 feet during its planned two- minute, 20-second flight. During its flight the rocket will dip its nose 60 degrees toward the horizon, right itself and dip its nose 60 degrees in the opposite direction. This flight maneuver will enable evaluation of the performance of new lightweight, high-strength materials and components.
The "Clipper Graham" has flown successfully three times. Its first flight was May 18, and its last two flights came just 26 hours apart on June 7 and 8.
The "Clipper Graham" was developed from the U.S. Air Force DC-X rocket which flew eight times between August 1993 and July 1995. The DC-X airframe was extensively modified by replacing existing systems with new technology components required for the development of a single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle. These include a composite liquid hydrogen tank, the first ever to fly on a rocket, and a Russian-built aluminum-lithium alloy liquid oxygen tank. The vehicle's advanced technology components all have performed well during its first three flights according to NASA program manager Dan Dumbacher of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. The last flight planned for the vehicle will feature its first use of a new lightweight auxiliary power system which will convert liquid hydrogen to a gas for use in the vehicle's flight reaction control system and auxiliary power unit. The reaction control system provides backup for the rocket's roll altitude during flight.
"Clipper Graham" is part of NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology program, together with the X-34 small technology demonstrator and the X-33 test vehicle which NASA and Lockheed-Martin are developing as a one-half scale model of the Reusable Launch Vehicle private industry likely will develop and operate during the first decade of the next century.
The Air Force's Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, is managing flight test operations.
While the "Clipper Graham" flight tests are not open to the general public, news media representatives may cover the tests by requesting accreditation from the White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office (facsimile machine number 505/678-7174, phone 505/678-1134.
The point of contact is Debbie Bingham. Even those media representatives already accredited must register in advance for each flight to ensure adequate transportation to the test site. Media planning to view the test flight must be at Bldg. 122 by 11:30 a.m. on flight day, July 12.