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Development & Manufacturing of X-73 Space Plane Flaperons & Ruddervators

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Since 2004, LX3 Tooling Corporation has been involved in the process development and manufacturing of Boeing's X-73 space plane flaperons and ruddervators. These components are used as control surfaces for X-73 space plane models. The program was originally started by NASA, and was then transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). LX3 Tooling 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, ranging from Ren tooling board to 6061 aluminum parts.
  • Manufacturing of assembly fixtures and tools.
  • Design and manufacturing of machining fixtures.
  • Machining program development for all carbon components.
  • CNC machining and inspection of all carbon components.
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X-73 Space Plane Flaperons - 3D SolidWorks CAD Drawing
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X-73 Space Plane Flaperons

All assemblies and fixtures were constructed from carbon and carbon composites with an outer ceramic conversion coating. These materials were chosen for their amazing durability under high-temperature conditions, as the materials for these parts need to survive the excessive heat endured when re-entering Earth's atmosphere from outer space.

LX3 is still involved in this ongoing project, supplying components that are in current use on DQ4 (4th flight unit) space planes.

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Development & Manufacturing of X-73 Space Plane Flaperons & Ruddervators Project Highlights

Product Description   LX3 Tooling Corporation manufactured these Flaperons an Ruddervators for the X-73 Space Plane.
Capabilities Applied/Processes  
Product Development
  • Design
    • Composite Layup Tooling
    • Machining Fixtures
  • Developed machining strategies for all carbon/carbon components to greatly improve assembly tolerance.
  • Solid Modeling (Solidworks)
  • Part & Material Sourcing
  • 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 all carbon/carbon parts
Equipment Used to Manufacture Flaperons & Ruddervators   CNC Mill
CNC Lathe
Tightest Tolerances   ± .0003"
Material Used  
Composite Layup Tooling:
Ren Tooling Board
6061 Aluminum
Machining Fixtures and Assembly Tooling:
6061 Aluminum
Tool steel
Ceramic Conversion Coating
  • Developed to Survive High Temperatures of Re-Entry
Coating is not Applied by LX3
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-73 Space Plane Flaperon and Ruddervator Assemblies

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