X-41 Common Aero Vehicle

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X-41 Common Aero Vehicle
Role Experimental manoeuvring re-entry vehicle
National origin United States
Status Experimental research programme
Primary user DARPA

Initiated in 2003, X-41 is the designation for a still-classified U.S. military spaceplane.


Specifications or photos of the program have not been released to the public yet; as a result not much is known about its goals. It has been described as an experimental manoeuvring re-entry vehicle capable of transporting a 1,000 lb payload on a sub-orbital trajectory at hypersonic speeds and releasing that payload into the atmosphere. The word "Aero" in "Common Aero Vehicle" stood for "aeroshell" and not "aerospace" because the CAV was a common aerothermodynamic shell for varying and multiple payloads.[1] The technology required for the X-41 is not yet known and is still undecided by the government. It is believed a new type of hypersonic travel is also being studied for the X-41 that will apparently be able to travel past Mach 7 (8,575 km/h; 5,328 mph) and perhaps onto Mach 9 (11,025 km/h; 6,851 mph).

This vehicle is now a part of the FALCON (Force Application and Launch from Continental United States) program sponsored by DARPA and NASA.


  1. ^ http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/x-41.html

External links

  • GlobalSecurity.org: X-41
  • Spacedaily.com: CAV
  • Pentagon Has Far-Reaching Defense Spacecraft in Works, Washington Post, March 16, 2005

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