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Rumor: X-33 on verge of cancellation?
Posted: Thu, Mar 1, 2001, 12:38 AM ET (0538 GMT)
X-33 illustration NASA's X-33 experimental vehicle could be cancelled as early as Thursday, according to various unconfirmed reports. NASA Watch reported Wednesday evening that a Congressional briefing on the Space Launch Initiative program, and possibly the X-33, is planned for Thursday, with an announcement to follow. The fate of the X-33 program has been questioned for some time, especially after a November 1999 accident that damaged an experimental hydrogen propellant tank intended for the suborbital vehicle. Designed to test technologies to be used on future reusable launch vehicles, the X-33 has yet to make a test flight: the first, originally scheduled for March 1999, is now expected no sooner than 2003, and NASA funding for the program is set to expire in March. Lockheed Martin, who won the X-33 contract from NASA in 1996, had intended the vehicle to be a subscale model of its proposed VentureStar single-stage reusable launch vehicle. However, the designs of the two vehicles have diverged considerably in recent years.
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