Space History Photos: X-36 on Ramp
In Edwards, California, the X-36 prototype sits on a ramp.
Credit: NASA.

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, an X-36 prototype sits on a ramp at NASA Dryden Flight Fesearch Center, Edwards California on July 16, 1997. The facility is hosting the X-36 program, as well as providing range support for the flight tests.

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California originated the X- 36 program and is managing the program in a cooperative effort with the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. MDC's responsibilities include flight preparation and testing, data acquisition and analysis.

The X-36 is a small, remotely-piloted jet built by MDC and designed to fly without the traditional tail surfaces common on most aircraft. Two 28 percent scale vehicles will be put through fighter aircraft maneuvers during the scheduled 25 flight program. The goal is to gather data on the performance characteristics, especially agility, of tailless, fighter type aircraft. The lack of vertical tails on the X-36 greatly enhances the stealthy characteristics of the airplane, and holds promise for greater agility than is currently available in existing fighter aircraft. The X-36 is 18 feet long with a 10 foot wingspan, is 3 feet high, and weighs 1,270 pounds.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).