NASA’s X-38 Prototype Lands in Nebraska – Not the Future

NASA's X-38 space station escape prototype
NASA's X-38 space station escape prototype

NASA’s prototype X-38 space station escape vehicle has finally found a new home. It arrived at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska last weekend. In other words, you can now see a canceled vehicle you probably long ago forgotten at someplace you probably never heard of before.

But, at least it didn’t land in the future.

For those who forgot, the X-38 was a 7-person escape vehicle built by Scaled Composites that was designed to be attached to the space station. NASA never finished the former and – to date – hasn’t finished the latter, either.

Now OFFICIALLY, the $500 million project was canceled by the Bush Administration because of cost overruns on said station…blah deh freakin blah…insert standard government excuse here…

In reality, the X-38’s one and only test flight with humans aboard didn’t go quite according to plan. At least as far as I can tell from this Top Secret footage obtained by Parabolic Arc:

Given the result, it’s probably a good thing that the X-38 never flew again. The Soyuz is tough, reliable and far too slow to ever break the time barrier.

For that, we should be grateful. There are worse things than being canceled.