Photos: Amazing X-Planes from the X-1 to XV-15

X-31 Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability Demonstrator


The X-31 Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability Demonstrator was used to test the newest technology in highly maneuverable fighters. The X-31 program logged an X-plane record of 580 flights during the program, 559 research missions and 21 in Europe for the 1995 Paris Air Show. This image was taken in March 1998.

X-33 Advanced Technology Demonstrator


However, due to technical problems with the composite liquid hydrogen tank, the X-33 program was cancelled in February 2001.

X-34 Technology Testbed Demonstrator

NASA/Tom Tschida

The unpiloted X-34 is a technology testbed demonstrator that is designed to demonstrate key vehicle and operational technologies applicable to future low-cost reusable launch vehicles. This image was taken July 20, 2000.

X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft

NASA/Carla Thomas

The X-36 was built as a prototype remotely-piloted fighter jet without traditional tail surfaces. It first flew in 1997 and had 31 research flights since then. This image was taken on Oct. 30, 1997.

X-37 Advanced Technology Demonstrator


This artist's conception shows the X-37 Advanced Technology Demonstrator in the Shuttle Payload Bay. The aircraft is designed to test technologies for NASA's space plane program.

X-38 Crew Return Vehicle

NASA/Carla Thomas

The X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) research project is designed to test a prototype emergency crew return vehicle for the International Space Station. Flight research with the X-38 at Dryden began in 1997 and the aircraft has since completed eight flights. The program was terminated in 2002. This image of a drop test was taken Dec. 13, 2001.

X-40A Space Manuever Vehicle

NASA/ Tony Landis

The unpowered X-40A, a space maneuver vehicle, proved the capability of an autonomous flight control and landing system in a series of glide flights at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. The image was taken May 5, 2001.

X-43A Hypersonic Experimental Vehicle

NASA/Tom Tschida

The X-43A Hypersonic Experimental (Hyper-X) Vehicle hangs suspended in the cavernous Benefield Aenechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base in January 2000. The X-43A was developed to flight test a dual-mode ramjet/scramjet propulsion system at speeds from Mach 7 up to Mach 10.

X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

NASA / Jim Ross

The Boeing X-45A is being tested by the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program as a weaponized unmanned vehicle. This image was taken on April 18, 2004 during a GPS-guided weapon demonstration flight.

X-48B in Flight

NASA/ Tony Landis

A joint NASA/Boeing team tested the X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The team completed the 80th and last flight of the project's first phase on March 19, 2010.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: Staff
News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.