Jim Cast, Dom Amatore

A Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) was issued late

yesterday for demonstration of Single-Stage-To-Orbit (SSTO)

technologies through the design, fabrication and flight test of

an X-33 advanced technology demonstrator. This technology

demonstration effort will enable the development of a new

generation of reusable launch vehicles which will greatly

reduce the cost of putting payloads into orbit.

“We are moving forward in our partnership with industry to

do the cutting-edge research required to provide our nation

with a reliable, affordable means of access to space,” said

Gary Payton, Reusable Launch Vehicle program manager in NASAs

Office of Space Access and Technology, Washington, DC.

The notice solicits proposals for a joint government and

industry effort to demonstrate SSTO technologies by means of

the X-33. Three aerospace companies — Lockheed Martin Skunk

Works, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and Rockwell International

Corp. — have been working with NASA since March 1995 on

concept definition and design of the X-33 in Phase I of the

program. NASA will select an industry partner for Phase II, in

which X-33 will demonstrate vehicle reusability and operability

concepts that assure low cost operations and rapid processing

for reflight. Phase II will culminate in flight demonstration

testing of the X-33, which will begin in early 1999.

“X-33 is an experimental program intended to reduce the

risk of developing and operating a Single-Stage-To-Orbit

vehicle,” said X-33 project manager Gene Austin of NASAs

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL.

“It will give government and industry the means to decide by

the end of this decade the feasibility of developing an

operational next-generation reusable launch vehicle. That

development, if it occurs, is planned to be led by industry.”

NASA and industry will share costs during Phase II of the

X-33 program, with NASA budgeting a total of $941 million in

expenditures through 1999. The amount its industry partner

will invest is to be determined.

Industry proposals are due by May 13, 1996, and NASA

expects to select its industry partner by July. Approval from

the White House is required for NASA to proceed into this next

phase of the X-33 program.

The X-33 CAN is available via the Internet at URL: