Jim Cast, Dom Amatore, Ron Lindeke

For the second time in as many months, government and

industry managers have successfully completed a Preliminary

Design Review (PDR) for the X-33 technology demonstration

program. This design review for the operations segment and

ground systems segment of the X-33 represents the last in a

series of PDRs.

The three day PDR conducted last week in California,

with NASA and industry team members in attendance, confirmed

readiness to begin detailed design of the X-33 Ground Support

System and Launch Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.

Last month, a week-long PDR approved a baseline configuration

for final detailed vehicle design and long-lead procurement.

The next major milestones for the program are a series of

Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) starting in January and

culminating in an August Operations CDR. Construction of a

25-acre launch facility at Edwards is expected to begin in

October 1997.

The X-33, a half-scale technology demonstrator, is

scheduled to make as many as fifteen flights during a 10-

month period, beginning in March 1999. Launched vertically

from Edwards, it will fly up to 15 times the speed of sound

at altitudes approaching 50 miles. Potential landing sites

are located in California, Utah, Montana and the state of

Washington. The flagship vehicle in the agency’s Reusable

Launch Vehicle (RLV) program, X-33 is intended to pave the

way for a full scale, commercially-developed RLV after the

turn of the century, which could dramatically reduce the cost

of putting payloads into space.

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