The X-38 was a program under leadership of NASA Johnson Space Center to build a series of incremental flight demonstrators for the proposed Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) for the International Space Station.
The program also, in an unusual move for a X-plane, involved the European Space Agency and the German Space Agency DLR.
The X-38 V-131 and V-132 shared the aerodynamic shape of the X-24A. It was patterned after a lifting-body shape first employed in the Air Force-NASA X-24 lifting-body project in the early to mid-1970s. This shape had to be enlarged for the Crew Return Vehicle needs (crew of seven astronauts) and redesigned, especially in the rear part, which became thicker.
The X-38 V-131R was designed at 80 percent of the size of a CRV, and featured the final redesigned shape.
The X-38 V-201 orbital prototype was 80 percent complete, but never flown.
The later prototypes had their descent continue under a 7,500 ft² (700 m²) parafoil wing, the largest ever made.
(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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