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

)

November 5, 1997

Dom Amatore Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 205/544-0031) Ron Lindeke Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, CA (Phone: 805/572-4153) RELEASE: 97-254 NASA COMPLETES X-33 ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT PROCESS NASA yesterday completed its Record of Decision (ROD) on the X-33 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), announcing it intends to proceed with the preferred X-33 flight test program as described in the Final EIS issued Oct. 3. Signing of the decision document yesterday by Dr. Robert E. Whitehead, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology, concludes a 12-month EIS process of assessing the development and flight test of the X-33, a subscale technology demonstrator prototype of a Reusable Launch Vehicle. All 15 test flights of the X-33 will be conducted from the launch site at Haystack Butte on the eastern portion of Edwards Air Force Base, CA, to landing sites at Michael Army Air Field, Dugway Proving Ground, UT, and Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, MT. A third landing site, Silurian Lake, a dry lake bed near Baker, CA, had been considered for use as a short-range landing site. However, flights into DugwayÕs airfield some 450 miles from Edwards better match the initial flight demonstration requirements. The X-33 environmental study considered issues such as public safety, noise, impacts on general aviation, and effects on biological, natural and other resources. Two launch sites

and five landing sites were evaluated for potential use. The final decision on a flight test program was based on programmatic, technical, and other considerations as well as environmental factors. Overall, environmental impacts of the program are expected to be low at all operational sites. Now that the environmental process for the X-33 has been completed, the next major program milestone is groundbreaking for the launch facility at Edwards Air Force Base. Construction crews are scheduled to begin work this week. Construction is scheduled to be completed within a year. The X-33 is being developed under a cooperative agreement between NASA and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, CA, which began July 2, 1996. NASA has budgeted $941 million for the X-33 program through 1999. Lockheed Martin will invest at least $212 million in the X-33 program. The X-33 is a sub-scale technology demonstrator prototype of a Reusable Launch Vehicle, which Lockheed Martin has named "Venture Star (tm)," and which the company hopes to develop early in the next century. Through demonstration flights and ground research, the X-33 will provide information needed for industry to decide by the year 2000 whether to proceed to the development of a full-scale, commercial single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle. - end NOTE TO EDITORS: The two-volume Final Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Internet at URL (approximately 1,025 pages with appendices): http://eemo.msfc.nasa.gov/eemo/x33_eis An electronic version of the 45-page executive summary is available at (1 MB file in Portable Document Format): http://eemo.msfc.nasa.gov/eemo/x33_eis/x33_pdf/executive_summary.pdf Print versions of the document are available for review in the NASA Headquarters and Marshall Space Flight Center newsrooms.