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Boeing X-20 Dyna Soar "Enterprise"

Started by Paper Kosmonaut, November 23, 2021, 11:14:40 AM

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Paper Kosmonaut

Hi there!
First the back story.
The X-20 Dyna Soar was a joint project of Boeing and the DOD. It was meant to be a platform for spying from space and returning the results quickly and accurate. But evolutions in satellite developments made senator McNamara in 1962 cancel the Dyna Soar Project. (so far for the actual real story. Boeing had just a mockup and six candidate pilots to fly the missions.)

Now the Whiffery: Boeing already was working on the first real machines and one of the prototypes was almost finished. Boeing decided to keep working on it on their own expense and try and see what it was capable of. The finished X-20 was first flown and tested, cradled underneath the wing of a company owned B-52. Then it also was dropped and it performed landing tests. Developments in the Gemini project led to a definitive disinterest in the space plane and Boeing stored the flown X-20 in an on-site hangar.

When Apollo was well on its way, NASA started to face budget cuts and realised it could maybe use a better way to get to space instead of the behemoth Saturn V rocket. They needed something reusable. The big aerospace companies were asked for designs for a space plane. Again, the DOD was involved and demanded an outrageously large payload bay to be able to deploy their just as outrageously large spy sats. It had to be a big spacecraft.
But Boeing was smart and remembered the X-20. It could serve NASA well as a testbed to develop landing methods, new manoeuvring techniques in space, train the astronauts in flying back their spacecraft, testing out new thermal protection. So they offered NASA their X-20 space plane.  NASA happily accepted the Dyna Soar as a testbed.

In 1968, the space plane was refurbished and delivered to NASA. After several drop tests at Edwards AFB in California, the X-20 was flown to Cape Canaveral and was launched, unmanned on a Titan III. It made five orbits and performed excellent. The landing on Edwards was meticulous.
Astronauts, formerly assigned to the Dyna Soar project were asked to fly the space plane and some of them were re-hired, now as NASA pilots.
In 1969 the first manned flight of the now two-seated X-plane takes place from Florida. Five orbits and a landing in California.
At the Cape they created a new runway for the upcoming test flights.
In 1970 the government starts seriously thinking about a space plane. NASA gets a grant for further testing and development. Three more test flights take place between 1970 and 1972.
The X-20 gets a full overhaul. The belly gets a layer of heat-resistant material for re-entry tests.
When the X-20 comes out of the hangar in 1972 its upper surfaces are black and white, covered in a layer of ceramic tiles all across its body and the belly is black and tiled. The leading edges are replaced with a first incarnation of what will later become the RCC leading edge of the shuttle.
The shuttle in the meantime is developed bu North American Rockwell, who is happily using the data gathered by the X-20 flights.

After the new X-20 is presented to the public in 1972, it has been christened with the name Enterprise, because Star Trek fans. After a couple of drop tests to check the new configuration, the tiny shuttle suffers from tile loss. They resolve the issue by using better glue on the belly and taking an alternative route with the white tiles, which are replaced by heat-resistant Nomex. After some more tests, Enterprise is ready to be sent back into space again.
Now crewed with two, the refurbished X-20 makes mor than a dozen spaceflights and by doing so, it paves the way for the upcoming space shuttle, which is developed much faster than expected. In 1975, Shuttle Constitution is presented to the public. After a dozen landing tests from the back of a modified 747 in California, Constitution is flown to the cape in 1978 where it is shown on the launch pad of LC-39a when the last Apollo is launched for the ASTP from LC39b. In 1979, Constitution is launched, performs perfectly well.  On its third flight,  Constitution carries a device to push Skylab into a higher orbit.  When Skylab is in a 500 km orbit, later that year, Constitution docks with the station with an array of new technology to add to the old station.
Meanwhile, The role of the X-20 Enterprise has been played and NASA offers the little space plane to the NASM.  It is shown there, upside down, suspended from the roof, attached to an unused Transtage.

The original Dyna Soar in its USAF outfit with its Transtage (third stage of a Titan IIIc launch vehicle). Different types of paper, even the silvery parts are paper, card, actually cladded with a reflective layer. Hard to glue but looking great.
The model is created by Mark Cable and includes the Transtage.

The spacecraft is attached to the Transtage by magnets, hidden in the rear of the ship (and in the brown part of the Transtage.

A closer look at the Transtage. Which was a joy to build with all the plumbing. (the engine plumbing is metal wire covered in rolled-around paper. I first tried to make it purely out of paper but that proved to be a pain in the a$$. And I am no paper purist.

The rear facing part of the Dyna Soar is based on the few pictures of the mock-up version, which of course just was a mock-up. Here too, I used several types of metallic coated paper.

The original type next to the new NASA livery. Here I used canvas-textured paper to imitate the NOMEX-surface of the wings and hull like the later shuttles had.

A close up. To get the paper parts attached snugly, I used glue strips on the backside of the paper.

During assembly and shaping.

The wing surface.

The rear section of the Enterprise. The metal ring: A docking collar? An airlock? Who knows? Who cares? It looks awesome!

I made a little trolley to transport the Enterprise on after landing:

Also completely out of paper except for the flashing blue light on the pole. That is the cap of a tiny flacon of flea and tick repellant for my cats.

The Dyna Soar Enterprise on the trolley:

And well, that's it! Hope you can appreciate it. There may be some more Dyna Sorcery in the future (this model in 1/96 on top of a Titan IIIc maybe but this it it for now!
dei t dut mout t waiten!


So being a real glutton for punishment you built TWO of them?

They both look AWSOME, most impressed.  :thumbsup:
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



Wow, that is certainly something special.

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Reality is an illusion caused by an alcohol deficiency


Phil Peterson

Vote for the Whiffies


Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.


Wow, that's a very nice papercraft!  :thumbsup: Didn't realize it until I saw the cut out.


I didn't realise it was made of paper until I read the build history, brilliant model !  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Mostly harmless ...............

Joe C-P

It's a nice alternative history.   :thumbsup:
In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.

Rick Lowe