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Development & Manufacturing of X-37 Space Plane Flaperons & Ruddervators

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LH Flaperon on Assembly Fixture model
LH Flaperon on Assembly Fixture model
RH Flaperon Assembly Fixture
RH Flaperon Assembly Fixture
X-37B Pre Launch
X-37B Pre Launch

Since 2004, LX3 Corporation has been involved in the process development and manufacturing of Boeing's X-37 space plane Flaperons and Ruddervators. These complex assemblies serve as the control surfaces for the X-37.  All components are constructed of carbon/carbon composite with an outer ceramic conversion coating. These materials are needed to survive the high temperatures of re-entry from outer space. The program was originally started by NASA, and was then transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). LX3 Corporation was subcontracted by Carbon Carbon Advanced Technologies (C-CAT) to work on this project.

Our areas of involvement for this program include:

  • Design and manufacturing of composite layup tooling for various components.
  • Manufacturing of assembly fixtures and tools.
  • Design and manufacturing of machining fixtures.
  • Machining program development for carbon/carbon components.
  • CNC machining and inspection of carbon/carbon components.

LX3 is still involved in this ongoing project, providing manufacturing and inspection of components for future flight units. The X-37B was launched on its 2nd mission March 5, 2011. On its maiden voyage the X-37B spent 225 days in orbit.

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Development & Manufacturing of X-37 Space Plane Flaperons & Ruddervators Project Highlights

Product Description  LX3 Corporation is involved in the manufacturing of Flaperons and Ruddervators for the X-37 Space Plane.
Capabilities Applied/Processes  
Product Development
  • Design
    • Composite Layup Tooling
    • Machining Fixtures
  • Developed machining strategies for carbon/carbon components to greatly improve assembly tolerance.
  • Solid Modeling (Solidworks)
  • Supporting Documentation
    • Solid Models
    • Inspection Reports
  • Manufactured Composite Layup Tooling
  • Manufactured Graphite Restraints
  • Manufactured Machining Fixtures
  • Manufactured Assembly Tooling
  • CAM Programming (Surfcam)
  • CNC Machining of carbon/carbon parts
Equipment Used CNC Mill
CNC Lathe
Tightest Tolerances ± .0003"
Materials Used – Tooling and Fixtures 
Composite Layup Tooling:
Ren Tooling Board
6061 Aluminum
Machining Fixtures and Assembly Tooling:
6061 Aluminum
Tool steel
Materials Used – Flaperon and Ruddervator Components 
Carbon/carbon composite
Ceramic Conversion Coating on exposed surfaces
All composite layup, processing, coatings and final assembly performed by CCAT
In process testing/inspection performed CMM and Dimensional Inspection of all Tooling & Components
Manufacturing Turn Around Time Ongoing Project
Currently on DQ4 (4th Flight Unit)
Industry for Use Aerospace
Space Exploration
Standards Met CCAT Dimensional Tolerance Requirements
Delivery Location Arlington, Texas
Product Name X-37 Space Plane Flaperon and Ruddervator Assemblies

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