Jim Cast Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1779


March 12, 1996

Dom Amatore Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 205/544-0031) RELEASE: 96-45 RESEARCH ANNOUNCEMENT TO JUMP-START X-34 A forthcoming NASA Research Announcement (NRA) will solicit industry and government proposals aimed at re-structuring the X-34 program allowing for one or more small technology demonstrator vehicles to begin flight tests in 1998. The original X-34 was to have been a small, reusable commercial launch vehicle as well as a technology test bed for the Agency's Reusable Launch Vehicle activities. The Cooperative Agreement which formed this initial industry-government partnership has been revoked by industry due to their concerns about the commercial viability of the effort. The intention to issue an NRA by the end of the month was announced today in the "Commerce Business Daily." "This announcement marks an important step in focussing the X-34 program on our top priority of technology demonstration flight tests," said Gary Payton, Director of NASAÕs Reusable Launch Vehicle Program. "This will allow government and industry to get on with the important task of demonstrating key technologies in the demanding test environments that address tomorrowÕs reusable space transportation needs," Payton said. This re-structured technology demonstration program -- not tied to potential commercial applications -- is being planned to bridge the gap between this springÕs flight tests of the DC-XA (NASA's Advanced Delta Clipper), and projected flight tests of a larger X-33 demonstrator in the spring of 1999. The X-33 program could lead to a national, industry-led decision, by the year 2000, to develop a commercial vehicle early next century which will provide affordable, reliable and reusable access to space. Results of the X-34 program will be shared with industry which is soon to begin development of the X-33.

Plans for the program include launch and landing one or more unmanned, reusable vehicles up to 25 times within a year; powered flights to at least 250,000 feet and capable of attaining 8-times the speed of sound or better; use of advanced thermal protection systems flying subsonically through rain and fog; flights of new technologies that test composite structures, composite tanks, and new integrated avionics; and demonstrations of safe abort and autonomous landing techniques, in high cross winds, utilizing modern landing systems. The government commitment in the re-structured program is estimated to be approximately $60 million. Today's Commerce Business Daily announcement is also available through the Internet via the Marshall Space Flight Center Procurement Home Page at URL: http://procure.msfc.nasa.gov/midrange/presol/notices/notices.html and the NASA RLV Home Page URL: http://rlv.msfc.nasa.gov - end -