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NASA preparing to end X-38 program
Posted: Thu, May 2, 2002, 2:50 PM ET (1850 GMT)
X-38 in free flight (NASA/DFRC) NASA Headquarters has instructed the Johnson Space Center to stop work on the X-38, a prototype of a proposed International Space Station crew return vehicle (CRV), the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday. The article said the Fred Gregory, the associate administrator for spaceflight, "quietly" ordered JSC director Jefferson Howell to submit a stop-work plan for the X-38 by the beginning of next week. The move had been expected since NASA officials said they would use funding appropriated by Congress last year to shut down the program, rather than continue testing as Congress intended. The decision has been sharply criticized by both Democratic and Republican Houston-area members of Congress during recent hearings. The future of the X-38 had been uncertain for more than a year, after NASA and the Bush Administration announced in early 2001 that they were suspending plans to develop a CRV and habitation module for the ISS. Without either the station is restricted to a three-person crew, a decision that ISS international partners have strongly objected. NASA is continuing studies of a crew transfer vehicle that could be used to transport astronauts to and from the station on short notice, which could be incorporated into the Space Launch Initiative program.
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