X-33 PROGRAM COMPLETES OPERATIONS REVIEW
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
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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