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Space

 
DATE=  11/3/97
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-37973
TITLE=X-33 PROGRESS
BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 
INTRO:   THE REPLACEMENT FOR THE U-S SPACE SHUTTLE HAS CLEARED A 
MAJOR DESIGN HURDLE, AND THE AEROSPACE FIRM DESIGNING IT IS 
PREPARING TO BUILD A SMALL-SCALE PROTOTYPE FOR FLIGHT TESTING.  
V-O-A SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT DAVID MCALARY BRINGS US UP TO DATE ON
THE PROGRESS OF THE X-33.
TEXT:     U-S GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES, MEETING AT
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE IN CALIFORNIA, APPROVED THE FINAL DESIGN 
OF THE X-33 ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST.  THE X-33 IS THE MINIATURE 
FLYING WEDGE THAT IS THE MODEL FOR A LARGER SPACECRAFT EXPECTED 
TO SUPPLANT THE SPACE SHUTTLE EARLY IN THE NEXT CENTURY.
ACCORDING TO THE X-33 PROJECT MANAGER -- CLEON LACEFIELD OF THE 
LOCKHEED MARTIN COMPANY -- THE DESIGN REVIEW BY 600 PEOPLE FROM 
HIS FIRM, FROM THE U-S SPACE AGENCY, NASA, AND FROM THE AIR FORCE
GAVE THE PROGRAM A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.
                       // LACEFIELD ACT //
         THE CRITICAL DESIGN REVIEW COVERED THE ENTIRE VEHICLE 
         SYSTEMS FOR THE PROGRAM.  SO WE ARE VERY, VERY PLEASED 
         THAT WE HAVE COMPLETED THIS MAJOR MILESTONE AND WE ARE 
         READY TO [MAKE THE] TRANSITION INTO THE FABRICATION AND 
         ASSEMBLY PHASE OF THE PROGRAM.
                          // END ACT //
WITH A WINGLESS, WEDGE-SHAPED BODY, THE LOCKHEED MARTIN X-33 
WOULD TAKE OFF LIKE A ROCKET AND RETURN TO EARTH LIKE AN 
AIRPLANE.  THE FULL-SIZED VERSION, CALLED VENTURESTAR, WOULD 
WEIGH LESS THAN THE SPACE SHUTTLE BECAUSE OF LIGHTER COMPOSITE 
MATERIALS, SO IT WOULD NOT NEED THE HUGE BOOSTER ROCKETS THAT 
ACCOMPANY THE SHUTTLE AT LAUNCH.  IT WOULD ALSO REQUIRE ONLY A 
FEW DAYS PREPARATION BY SMALL GROUND CREWS BEFORE TAKING OFF 
AGAIN.  IN CONTRAST, THE SPACE SHUTTLE NEEDS LARGE MAINTENANCE 
TEAMS AND MONTHS TO GET READY, SHARPLY LIMITING THE NUMBER OF 
ANNUAL FLIGHTS.
THE CONCEPT DIFFERS FROM THE SHUTTLE IN ANOTHER WAY, TOO.  IT 
WILL  NOT  HAVE A CREW -- AT LEAST  NOT  AT FIRST.  IT IS CHEAPER
TO CARRY PAYLOADS WITHOUT PEOPLE, AND THE TECHNOLOGY EXISTS TO 
MAKE THE CRAFT FULLY AUTOMATIC.
BECAUSE OF THESE DIFFERENCES, VENTURESTAR IS EXPECTED TO LOWER 
THE COST OF LAUNCHING PAYLOADS BY 90 PERCENT AND HELP PROPEL THE 
UNITED STATES INTO THE COMMERCIAL LAUNCH BUSINESS, NOW DOMINATED 
BY THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY'S ARIANE ROCKET.
LOCKHEED MARTIN WILL OPERATE THE NEW CRAFT FOR PROFIT, IN LINE 
WITH NASA'S GOAL OF TURNING THIS SECTOR OF SPACEFLIGHT OVER TO 
PRIVATE INDUSTRY.  NASA IS DONATING ONE-BILLION DOLLARS TOWARD 
ITS DEVELOPMENT -- ABOUT ONE-FOURTH THE DEVELOPMENT COST -- BUT 
AFTER THE X-33 PHASE IS OVER, THE VENTURESTAR PROGRAM WILL BE 
FULLY FINANCED BY THE AEROSPACE COMPANY.
AN OFFICIAL WITH THE LOCKHEED MARTIN ASSEMBLY FACILITY ON 
PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA -- JERRY RISING -- SAYS NASA, NOT 
SURPRISINGLY, WILL BE VENTURESTAR'S FIRST CUSTOMER.  ITS PRIMARY 
MISSION WILL BE TO CARRY PAYLOADS TO THE PLANNED INTERNATIONAL 
SPACE STATION.  BUT MR. RISING FORESEES SIGNIFICANT DEMAND FROM 
THE PRIVATE SECTOR.
                        // RISING ACT //
         OUR INITIAL MARKETING ANALYSIS IS SHOWING THAT THERE IS 
         MUCH MORE BUSINESS AVAILABLE OUTSIDE OF THE NASA SECTOR.
         BASICALLY, LAUNCHING COMMERCIAL PAYLOADS FOR OTHER 
         CUSTOMERS COULD AMOUNT TO AS MUCH AS 50 PERCENT OF THE 
         BUSINESS BASE OF THE VEHICLE.  RIGHT NOW, WITHOUT BEING 
         REALLY FAR INTO THE ANALYSIS, WE SEE ABOUT A 50-50 SPLIT
         BETWEEN NASA BUSINESS IN FLYING TO SPACE STATION AND 
         POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL BUSINESS.
                          // END ACT //
LOCKHEED MARTIN OFFICIALS SAY THEY HOPE TO BEGIN MAKING A PROFIT 
FROM VENTURESTAR WITHIN FIVE YEARS AFTER IT BEGINS OPERATIONS IN 
2004.
THE NEW CRAFT WILL  NOT  REPLACE THE SPACE SHUTTLE IMMEDIATELY 
UPON ENTERING SERVICE.  THE NASA OFFICIAL OVERSEEING THE X-33 
PROGRAM -- GENE AUSTIN -- SAYS THE TWO CRAFT WILL FLY 
CONCURRENTLY FOR A WHILE.
                        // AUSTIN ACT //
         WE EXPECT A PERIOD OF TIME TO HAVE THE SHUTTLE AND THE 
         VENTURESTAR BOTH FLYING.  THAT IS ESTIMATED TO BE AROUND
         TWO YEARS.  IT COULD BE DIFFERENT THAN THAT, BUT THAT'S 
         THE ROUGH PLANNING ESTIMATE THAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW.
                          // END ACT //
IN THE MEANTIME, SMALL-SCALE X-33 DEMONSTRATION VERSIONS ARE TO 
BE BUILT NEXT YEAR.  FIFTEEN FLIGHT X-33 TESTS ARE SCHEDULED FOR 
THE SECOND HALF OF 1999, REACHING ALTITUDES OF NEARLY 
100-KILOMETERS AT UP TO 13-AND-A-HALF TIMES THE SPEED OF SOUND.  
THE FULL-SCALE VENTURESTAR, WHICH WILL BEGIN TESTING BY 2002, 
WILL REACH NEAR-EARTH ORBITS SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE
AT 25 TIMES THE SPEED OF SOUND.  (SIGNED)
NEB/DEM/RRM
03-Nov-97 3:25 PM EST (2025 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
.
      



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