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X-37 wings completed, first flight in 2004
Posted: Thu, Feb 7, 2002, 9:05 AM ET (1405 GMT)
X-37 illustration (NASA/MSFC) Boeing announced Wednesday that it has completed the wings of the X-37 experimental vehicle, designed to test reusable launch vehicle technologies, but said that it will be two years before the first drop tests take place. The wings, built in Huntington Beach, California, have been shipped to a Palmdale, California facility where the X-37 fuselage is already located. The company said that final assembly work of the X-37 will be completed in late 2003 with the first unpowered drop tests from an aircraft planned for early 2004. Original plans called for the X-37 to be carried into space on the shuttle or an expendable rocket, but Boeing would only say Wednesday that it and NASA "continue to discuss plans for boosting X-37 into orbit." The X-37 program was started in 1999 as a cooperative venture between NASA, Boeing, and the Air Force, with the goal of completing unpowered drop tests in 2001 and two orbital tests in 2002. In September 2001 the Air Force announced that it would not provide additional funding for the X-37 after fiscal year 2002.
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