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Reusable Launch Vehicle News
Archive: April - June 2000

Other RLV News sites:
RLV Alert at Spacer.com - Space Frontier Society -
Space Access Society Updates - X-33 History Timeline - 2000 -
Highway2Space * Space Transportation Directorate
* NASA Watch Launch System New

This section contains brief articles concerning developments in the field of reusable launch vehicles with links to news sources, NASA, company sites, etc.


Note: These articles provide a sampling of developments in RLV technology during this time. Unfortunately, many of the links here will expire over time.

When the the links go dead, an attempt to "relink" them will be made if the pages can be found at a new location. Otherwise, the text will be disconnected but still shown in italics.

If you want to follow up on an interesting but disconnected item, there are a few possiblities:

  • Most of the Yahoo news items are based on press releases from companies, NASA or other agency. If you go to the website of the particular company
  • or institution involved, it may have the PR in its archive. Look for the News or Press Release page.

  • Many online newspapers break their links after a period of time but keep the articles in an archive. However, they often will charge for a search.

  • If all else fails, try Alta Vista
  • or other search engine using the title or keywords from the title.

Archives: RLV News Archive Directory

June 27, 2000

Gary Hudson steps down as CEO of Rotary Rocket . Rotary announced on Monday that Hudson would continue an affiliation with the company as a consultant while Helena Hardman, the current CFO, will take over as interim head. The company is indefinitely postponing development of the orbital Roton and will work on an alternative business plan in the coming months.

Ed. - As reported in my review of the Space Access'00 meeting below , Hudson was extremely downbeat in his assessment of the development of private RLVs in the next 5-10 years. The failure of Iridium has made fund raising go from very difficult to virtually impossible. I think he was especially discouraged by the fact that the successful flight tests of the ATV had not been sufficient to convince investors of the viabililty of the Roton.

So this announcement is not very surprising. In fact, he said during the meeting that after working in several startups that never made it to profitability, he wanted now to pursue ventures that would actually make money from the start.

Helena Hardman Steps in to Replace Gary Hudson as CEO - Rotary Press Release - June.26.00 * Rotary CEO Gary Hudson Quits Amid Rocket Delays - Space.com - June.26.00

News brief...Space.com reviews the recent NASA symposium on the NASA programs to develop advanced transportation systems - Advanced Projects Map Future of Spaceflight - Space.com - June.21.00

June 25, 2000

News brief...Reports from Australia indicate there are still delays in opening the Kistler launch facility at Woomera but the project is still alive - ABC News(Australia) - 15/06/00 : Delays fail to dampen confidence in Woomera space port * ABC News (Australia)- 15/06/00 : Govt reaffirms commitment to SA space port

June 20, 2000

Nine companies win NASA RLV study contracts. According to the June 12 Space News, NASA distributed $15 million to nine firms who will examine various reusable vehicle designs and support technology. This is the first step in NASA's grand Space Launch Initiative, which would go something like this:

   2000  : design studies funded with $15 million. (Plus on-going X-34, X-43, etc.
   2001-2002  : three or four vehicle designs and various RLV support technology
               funded by a $235 million "risk reduction" program.
   2003-2004 : two designs chosen for intense development work and prototyping.
   2005 :  one vehicle design is chosen that will lead to flight vehicles by 2010
               and replacement of the shuttles.

About $1 billion in total is being requested for RLV work in the next three years.

The companies funded in the current round include the usual suspects - Boeing, Boeing-Rocketdyne, Lockheed-Martin, Orbital Sciences - plus two of the startup RLV companies - Kelly Space and Space Access - and two consulting agencies - Futron Corp and Andrews Space & Technology .

News brief...The X-34 project may build a test article to carry out additional engine ground tests - [--Error--]NASA Could Add Propulsion Test Article To X-34 Program - AviationNow - June.19.00 .

June 16, 2000

News brief...Sci-fi writer Larry Niven has written a review of Space Access'00 at Larry Niven: Rocket Men - Space.com - June.16.00 ...No test flight date in sight for troubled X-33 - Space Online - June.16.00 .

June 13, 2000

News brief...Space.com reports on strains between NASA and LockMart over the X-33 delays. Who will pay the extra costs is the major issue. It has definitely been decided to switch to aluminum H2 tanks but no word yet on how much delay this could mean for the first flight. The X 33 rocketplane project, a single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft, has stalled due to design problems. - Space.com - June.12.00

June 11, 2000

X-34 flights delayed. As NASA's John London hinted at Space Access'00, the X-34 test flights will be pushed back to overhaul the vehicle to add greater redundancy and robustness. AviationNow confirms ([--Error--]Mars Lessons Prompt X-34 Program Restructure - June.9.00 ) that the first unpowered flights will probably occur in Jan or Feb of 2001.

The avionics system, in particular, will be modified to avoid some single point failure modes. (The Mars Polar Lander failure inspired agency wide reviews of major projects and many will be delayed. )

More static tests will be carried out this year as well as some additional tow tests. One tow test occurred in May but was aborted when the towrope streched too far and triggered the brakes.

X-43 (Hyper-X) flights also delayed. The May 29, 2000 Aviation Week reports that the first Mach 7 flight of the hypersonic unmanned craft will slip from the summer to September. Software integration and fuel system qualification problems are given as the causes of the delays.

The scramjet powered vehicle will be carried by a B-52 to 20,000ft (~6.5km) over the Pacific. After dropping from the plane, the Orbital Sciences Pegasus booster will accelerate the vehicle to Mach 7 and release it at 100,000ft (~33km). It will then fly on its own power for about 7secs and then be lost into the ocean.

Instrumentation telemetry, however, should give a full view of the vehicle's performance. Hypersonic scramjet engines are extremely difficult to test and much will be learned even from this short firing. (A similar short test of a Russian scramjet engine boosted by a rocket has been reported)

The separation from the booster is a critical issue to insure a clean separation without aerodynamic disturbance of the vehicle. The article says that the release mechanism has now been finalized after extensive wind testing and simulations studies.

Catch a ride on a X-34? Rand Simberg had done a study of space tourism - Near-Term Prospects For Space Tourism - that includes a look at preliminary ventures such as parabolic aircraft flights and sub-orbital trips . In the latter he looks at the X-34, which is "..the only near-term fully-funded vehicle that, in principal, could offer a suborbital trip."

He discusses the possiblity of modifying an X-34 to replace one of the LOX tanks with a passenger module. This is mostly an interesting thought experiment since he states that a privately funded vehicle intended for suborbital tourism would "..have cost structures at least an order of magnitude less than the X-34, and would satisfy that market in a far superior manner...".

News briefs... CNN gives a brief report on the X-prize. No news, though, about progress in obtaining the full $10million funding. So far they have raised about $5million, mostly from the credit card promotion. CNN.com - Space - Space adventurers keep eyes on X-Prize - June 9, 2000 ...

June 5, 2000

News briefs... Andrews SpaceandTech provides a nice RLV database with sets of pages on many of the RLV vehicles in development...

Progress at NASA on rocket-air breather engine combos (RBCC - rocket based combined cycle). Prototype engine accumulates an hour of running during May - [--Link Dead--]Air-breathing Rocket Engine Technology Achieves Testing Milestone - MSFC PR - June.1.00 .

May 28, 2000

Committee cuts NASA budget for advanced transportation program. $322 million of NASA's $14 billion budget request was removed by the House Appropriations subcommittee. This was money intended for NASA's long term program to develop a shuttle replacement. However, it is early in the legislative process and the money may be put back later. Marshall Director Art Stephenson ‘disappointed’ by budget action on NASA Space Launch Initiative-MSFC PR-May.24 * Budget would cut new Marshall space effort - Supporters want new launch vehicle program money to be restored - Huntsville Times -May.24.00 .

May 18, 2000

X-33 engine runs 290sec test before a shutdown due to a leaking seal. NASA X-33 history site reports that the problem during the May 12th test involved a critical seal "designed to prevent hot exhaust gas from circulating into the engine cavity. Inspections after the test revealed no other damage to the engine or related hardware".

The engine, however, had run three tests for a total of 775secs and the "conditions under which the seal eroded (low power operation at sea level) would not be present during flight, so the incident was not considered to be a showstopper."

An X-33 tests flight would require an engine firing of a maximum of about 220secs.

[May 18 Supplement: NASA PR says that the test was intended to last 325secs. This test was also meant to be the last of 14 tests with this particular engine. They are reviewing whether additional tests with it are needed before proceeding with tests of the other engines. Aerospike engine sets new duration record in abbreviated test - MSFC Status Report - May.16.00 ] * [X-33 Aerospike Engine Completes Longest Test - SpaceViews - May.20.00 ]

The official X-33 LH2 tank damage report will be released next Tuesday, May 23 according to officials at the NASA history site. There will also be a media teleconference in the afternoon to discuss the report and the recovery plans for the program. Perhaps they will announce whether they have decided definitely to go with an aluminum tank replacement.

Boeing will ship X-40A to Edwards this month for drop tests to start in August according to Aviation Week - May 14. The X-40A has essentially become a support program for the X-37 . The latter will be carried in a shuttle bay to orbit and then released for re-entry and glide landing. The X-40A, about 80% the size of the X-37, will investigate the glide and landing phases of the X-37 with unpowered flights.

The X-40A, which did a drop test in 1998 , will be carried to 5000m by a Chinook helicopter and released with a speed of about 90kt. Six more tests are scheduled by the end of the year.

The X-37/X-40A programs are similar to the X-38 vehicle program in that they all involve small lifting body vehicles that are taken to orbit by the shuttle but the goals are somewhat different. The X-38 project aims to develop a manned vehicle that could server as the crew rescue vehicle (CRV) for the Space Station.

The X-37/X-40 vehicles, on the other hand, are intended to develop general technology for reusable orbital vehicles, manned or unmanned, that could carry out various tasks in orbit and the return to earth. These tasks could range from satellite maintenance to space station servicing. The Air Force is sharing funding for the X-40 as it sees various such applications for a "space maneuvering vehicle."

[NASA Takes Delivery of Boeing-Built X-40A Major milestone reached in X-37 space plane project - MSFC PR - May.22.00 ]

News briefs... Jeff Foust reviews the Space Access meeting - SpaceViews Article: Surviving the Launch Market Downturn - May.15.2000.

May 12, 2000

News briefs... Pioneer and Kelly, as well as JP Aerospace , receive small grants from the state of California's Highway To Space Program - [--Link Dead--]Seven California Companies Share $1 Million in Grants to Promote Commercial Space Activities - Press release - May.11.00

May 5, 2000

Space Access'00 - Highlights

Vertical Takeoff & Landing Test Rocket - ISAS - Japan

Henry Vanderbilt of the Space Access Society organized yet another tremendous meeting for those interested in the progress and plans to lower the barriers to low cost access to Space. The conference in Scottsdale, Arizona during April 27-29 included representatives from many RLV and other Space industry startups as well as from NASA and Orbital Sciences.

Completing the Space experience, at the end of each day's sessions the delegates were rewarded in the hospitality suite with the Space melodies of Elaine Walker-Mullen from the group ZIA .

[Sci-fi writer Larry Niven has written a review of Space Access'00 at Larry Niven: Rocket Men - Space.com - June.16.00 ]

Here are some themes and highlights of the meeting as culled from my notes:

Markets, markets, markets... It was pointed out repeatedly during the meeting that without a solid, near-term commercial LEO market of some sort, it will be impossible to convince institutional investors to invest in RLV startups. The GEO market is, of course, substantial, but the heavy lifters required for the ever larger comsats are heavily subsidized by governments (except for self-financed Beal Aerospace). A share of the launches to the ISS might help but dealing with NASA brings its own problems ...

Gary Hudson's somber assessment of the situation was especially sobering considering his optimism at the previous two meetings that I attended. He declared flatly that the LEO constellation market was dead. The Iridium disaster and the apparent failure of Teledesic to go beyond a paper constellation has killed the one real market that he could point to when talking to potential investors in Rotary Rocket.

Even when that market seemed real, raising money was nearly impossible. Without it, fund raising became totally impossible. He said that in the past year or so he has made over 300 presentations to investors. In hopes of an "angel", i.e. someone capable of funding a startup out of pocket, Rotary had walk-throughs by two mega-millionaires. Alas, all of these efforts failed to bring in a single buck.

This disappointment occurred despite the flight of real hardware, i.e. the ATV tests, the huge amount of publicity for Rotary in dozens of publications, and a tremendously popular website.

Gary noted that the key to the intense interest in Rotary was the involvement of human spaceflight. This led him to believe that the one possible "killer app" could be space tourism. However, he isn't sure how to develop it. An incremental approach beginning with sub-orbital flights would seem a reasonable path to follow. However, he doubts whether these short flights would be appealing enough to justify the $100k ticket prices needed to pay for vehicle development.

XCOR Jeff Greason and several other former employees of Rotary Rocket started XCOR Aerospace last year. Their primary goal is to build rocket engines and rocket powered vehicles that can be developed quickly and sold in an existing market.

Their initial product was to be a version of the X-1 aimed towards the growing aircraft replicas market. Replicas of WWII fighter planes, for example, have become popular. After testing this market they found that the X-1 was not so promising. A replica of the German Me-163b rocket powered fighter aroused greater interest and they are looking at developing it first.

Another area they are looking at is rocket assisted takeoffs for sailplanes. It was noted that rocket assisted aircraft were once fairly common. Even today, the Swiss have a version of the Mirage 3 with rocket assist for taking off from short runways. (This belies the common notion that rockets are always terribly dangerous and too unreliable to use in routine operations.)

A [--Link Dead--]test engine running on nitrous oxide and propane propellants was actually fired in the lecture hall. (The fire marshall was there to observe and ear plugs were required for all.)

and what might have been... discussions about these older rockets brought up the recognition that much of the know-how generated by projects like the X-1 and later the X-15 has been lost. The rush to get someone into Space after Sputnik-1 led NASA to go with missile rocket technology rather than with reusable aerospace-craft. (North American proposed an orbital version of the X-15 but it was turned down.)

The technology of robust, reliable engines, such as the XLR-11 on the X-1 and the XLR-99 on the X-15, was no longer pursued. This was especially true for dense fuel engines since NASA preferred liquid hydrogen engines for their higher performance, while ignoring their poor operability and high costs.

The missile derivatives eventually sent men to the Moon but the emphasis on expendables has left a legacy of high costs and low reliability. The refusal to move in small, modest steps from the X-15 resulted in the super complex and fragile Space Shuttle, which is hopelessly uneconomical.

It looks as if we went chose incorrectly at a fork in the road 40 years ago and now have to go back to that point and start again on a road without a dead end.

Sub-orbital the way to go? An alternative lower cost option for the short term is to develop reusable sub-orbital vehicles. There is a market for sounding rockets estimated at around $300M for military and scientific applications. This market is potentially much larger if sub-orbital tourist flights are included.

Bob Ray of TGV discussed their plans for sub-orbital vehicles. The TGV development would cost in the $50M range for 3 vehicles. Considerably less than the multi-hundreds of millions needed for orbital craft.

USL and ISAS fly the DC-X way...Bill Gaubatz of USN (Universal Space Networks is the sister company to Universal SpaceLines which doesn't seem to have a web site) outlined a plan that will lead to the orbital Space Clipper. Several sub-scale and sub-orbital vehicles will be constructed to develop the needed technology and experience.

These include development of vertical-landing-vertical-takeoff systems as with the DC-X . (The late Pete Conrad, who founded USL, was a manager of the DC-X project.) The initial testbed vehicle will continue where the DC-X left off, including the famous square flight patterns and eventually tests in the supersonic speed range.

In the course of his presentation, Gaubatz showed pictures of a project going on at the Institute for Space and Aeronautical Science (ISAS ) in Japan with a similar VTOL demonstrator . (See picture above.)

Leik Myrabo lights up a different road...Professor Myrabo has a way of making the most amazing sci-fi sounding technology seem not only feasible but well within our reach. He backs up his predictions not only with solid credentials and a sound theoretical foundation but, most disarmingly, with actual hardware experiments funded modestly by the military and NASA.

At the meeting he presented developments in [--Link Dead--]several areas in which his group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is working.

[--Link Dead--]Laser propulsion tests have been carried out at White Sands Missle Range. A 100KW CO2 laser was used to send a small spinning lightcraft to a height of 25m or so. Microwave propulsion is also being investigated.

[Jordan Kare presented his own design for a laser propelled vehicle using the combined beams from arrays of low cost diode lasers.]

He also presented results of tests on laser propelled sail material. It has been proposed that intersteller sails could be accelerated to near light speed by illuminating them with high powered lasers over long periods. However, no tests have actually been made on the proposed materials. Myrabo carried out experiments with a 150KW laser at Wright-Patterson AFB on samples of carbon fiber films with molybdenum reflective coatings. The tests indicated that it was possible to reach 1/10 g acceleration without overheating the material. Future tests will involve mirror coatings that could allow the acceleration to reach a 1g. [Supplement June.7 - SPACE.com Exclusive: JPL Accomplishes Laser Sail First - Space.com - Mar.1.00 * Breakthrough In Solar Sail Technology - SPACE.com- Mar.2.00 ]

Orbital Science...Orbital Science 's Bob Feconda reported on the status of the X-34 . Unpowered drop tests should begin this summer and powered tests next year.

He also discussed studies of a fully reusable orbital system consisting of two X-34 derived vehicles launched in a belly-to-belly attached configuration. Only one vehicle would fire at lift-off. It would detach and glide back to the launch site while the other vehicle fired and went on to orbit.

He then talked about Orbital's proposal to NASA to develop a "space taxi" or crew/cargo transfer vehicle (CCTV ). It delivers a crew to the ISS and then remains attached to the station to serve as the crew rescue vehicle.

Attachable external modules would provide for expanded roles such as carrying cargos, resources for Hubble type servicing, lunar missions and crew transfer to a Mars transport.

Round number cost for the space taxi would be in the $1 billion range.

NASA's John London from the [--Link Dead--]MSFC Future-X/Pathfinder program discussed the [--Link Dead--]X-34 and [--Link Dead--]X-37 programs. While the X-34 is proceeding more or less on course, there could be considerable delay due to an agency wide review of all programs in the aftermath of the Mar Polar Landing failure.

While the X-34 explores technology for reusable launchers, the X-37 will study reusable orbital and re-entry systems. Drop tests are expected by 2001 and then in 2002 it will be carried in a shuttle bay for release to orbit and glide return. (There has been problems in getting on the shuttle manifest so the mission could be delayed.)

On the longer term, systems under study include a crew escape demonstrator called Little Joe III, the "Fastbac" booster that would glide back to the launch site, and a "Cislunar tug" for taking payloads to the Moon and using aerobraking on return to Earth.

and a wet blanket... while there was great respect expressed for individuals at NASA such as London, the anger and bitterness with NASA as an institution was quite palpable at the meeting. NASA insists on continuing to carry out vehicle development internally rather than simply stating its requirements and contracting out to the company that can meet those needs at the lowest cost.

Rather than doing its best to encourage and nurture innovative startups, NASA lays upon the industry like a great wet blanket, smothering every effort to provide real reductions to the cost of space access.

The promising DC-X program and its "build-a-little, test-a-little" route to orbit was quickly abandoned after it was taken over by NASA. The DC-XA was destroyed in an landing accident but 3 or 4 DC-X follow-on vehicles could have been build for less than the price of the failed X-33 composite tank.

The [--Error [--Time Out--]--]X-33 required big leaps in several technologies and this has led to big delays, reduced performance, and higher costs. (Rumors that secret programs at the Skunk Works had previously developed large composite tanks in odd shapes as required by the X-33 turned out to be false.)

Remarks about yet another NASA 5 year plan brought lots of laughs. While the agency is allocating large sums towards "advanced launch systems", the strong expectation is that this will all end up going to internally developed projects such as flyback booster systems for the shuttle and for billion dollar CCTV's.

Europe the turtle... Dave Salt reviewed European launch developments. Europe typically follows the US in Space technology, but, as proven with the success of Ariane, it's slow and steady development approach has paid big dividends.

With the Ariane 5 finally reaching operational status, some money has been freed to look at future launchers. The French and Germans have started separate RLV programs . [--Link Dead--]Aerospatiale-Matra has a study of reusable launch technology while the Germans are moving towards a sled-launched sub-orbital demonstrator called Hopper .

Miscellaneous...There were many other interesting presentations. Some of these included...

Charles Miller discussed Constellation Service Inc (CSI) , which wants to develop in-orbit servicing of satellites. This could range from refueling the stationkeeping engines to repairs and retrievals...

Tim Tyger of Universal Space Networks (USN) reported on their fast growing business of providing satellite control services to various microsats, especially scientific satellites. The company was a spinoff of Pete Conrad's Universal Space Lines. They now have ground stations around the world and contracts with several ongoing and upcoming satellites...

Mark Blair from Australia told about the challenges of exploring Space in a country with no government supported space agency at all. The Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI) is a volunteer non-profit organization that has managed to accomplish a great deal with modest support from universities and corporate grants. They are developing a high altitude sounding rocket that will take 150kg to 500km. They also have a program using surplus military rockets to launch simple experiments developed by primary and secondary school students...

Len Cormier described the designs of several vehicles including the XVan2001 , a vehicle intended for the X-Prize competition. He said that once the X-Prize funds its promised $10million purse, he could raise the $4-5 million that he and his group of volunteers need to build the XVan2001...

Michael Wallis of the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS) reported on their high-altitude rocket designs. Long term projects include small scale reusable launch demonstrators that will lead to an orbital vehicle that can put 5kg in orbit.

Looking back and forward... Despite the disappointing failures of the leading RLV companies to raise sufficient funds to get vehicles actually to orbit, I detected an underlying optimism based on the tremendous progress made since the meeting series began in the early 1990's.

At that time the suggestion that small private companies could get any money at all to develop launch vehicles was considered laughable by most in the aerospace industry. Since then Kistler has raised about half a billion dollars and Rotary, Pioneer and Kelly have gotten funds in the range of $50-75million combined.

Real hardware has been developed and state of the art R&D has been carried out in many areas including engine and composite tank development.

The DC-X, a project in which several members of the SAS had a strong hand in getting off the ground, shifted the paradigm of what was possible in reusable rocket systems, especially low-cost construction and operability.

Similarly, startups offering new Space services was considered unrealistic, to say the least. Now companies like USN are making real money and MirCorp has opened Mir for commercial operations.

The path to low cost access to Space is long and tough. But with the efforts of groups like the SAS, we will definitely get there one day.

Cerulean Freight Forwarding Company reports that they have attained about 75% of the funding needed to begin construction of their Kitten X-Prize contender. Their business plan calls for $500k needed for the Kitten development. They need a commitment from one more potential users to gain their final loan. Millennium Academy students are helping to do the design for the craft. Check out their revised and updated website for the latest information.

News briefs... Rotary Rocket reports that, like Kistler below, they have signed an agreement with SOI to arrange low cost delivery to orbit for university microsats.

April 17, 2000

Kistler showing signs of life. No word on funding progress but two [--Link Dead--]recent press releases indicate the company is still very much alive. Kistler signed an [--Link Dead--]agreement with SOI , a consortium of [--Link Dead--]Ball Aerospace and the Universities Space Research Association , on April 13 to cooperate on arranging launch space for small payloads. The USRA had a previous agreement back in 1998 with Kistler for low cost launches for student microsats (unfortunately, the web page at USRA for this has disappeared). Apparently, despite the delays, the cooperation is being maintained.

Kistler also hired a [--Link Dead--]new VP and CFO .

News briefs... Space Access, LLC finally has a web page - note singular case. At least there is an animated logo...

April 14, 2000

The Space Access Society annual meeting will be in Scottsdale, AZ, on April 27-29 this year. Register to hear representatives of the leading RLV projects discuss the status of their vehicle design and development. An impressive list of speakers is provided in the latest preview announcement .

Besides the talks about hardware, their will also be plenty of discussions about the financial challenges for the private companies and the political problems of the NASA projects. See the SAS April 5 update , for example, for a summary of how the SAS believes that NASA should proceed, or not proceed, with respect to the X-33 and other advanced space transportation programs.

News briefs... A X-38 large parafoil test succeeded today (without an X-38 attached.) See Soft Landing For X 38- Space.com ...

Watch the House Science and Space committee's recent hearing on NASA FY2001 via [--Error--]real video - includes Ivan Bekey 's appeal that the X-33 project stay with composite tanks.

April 12, 2000

X-33 engine passes 250sec test on April 6th. According to the NASA X-33 History timeline , the test met all objectives without any anomalies. The test is 30secs longer than the planned flight-times. See also [--Error [--Time Out--]--]VentureStar Press Release .

News briefs...VentureStar site offers a [--Time Out--]press release on the March 22 engine test of 220secs...

..NASA and Lockheed-Martin are leaning towards switching the X-33 tanks to aluminum but are being urged by many to solve the composite tank problems instead and use them to meet the program's objectives ... SpaceViews Article: NASA Decision on X-33 Problems and Future Plans Due Soon - Apr-11-00 ...

...Congressman not happy with X-33 program - [--Error--]Rohrabacher Warns NASA On X-33 Advance Plan - AviationNow .

April 4 , 2000

News briefs...Download this year's FAA's review of reusable launch programs (in pdf format). Gives a nice overview of the field and the major players....

Take a look at Len Cormier's latest RLV design - the Millenium Express - at his Tour2Space site. Also, checkout the suborbital X-Prize XVan2001 entry...

[--Link Dead--]Flight tests on a missile this summer of high temperature ceramic materials could, if successful, allow for sharp-edge designs of RLV's. This would provide for better aerodynamic performance over the current blunt-edged designs like the space shuttle. More info at SHARP-B01 Flight Test - Ames .


See the archives:
      Jan-Mar 2000
      Sep-Dec 1999
    Apr-Aug 1999


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey

The Rocket Company
The Rocket Company

Fictionalized account of the challenges faced by a group of seven investors and their engineering team in developing a low-cost, reusable, Earth-to-orbit launch vehicle. Forward by Peter Diamandis
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