X-Message-Number: 15785
From: "Mark Plus" <>
Subject: "NASA cuts hurt space port hopes"
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001 17:58:46 -0800

NASA's decision has economic consequences in my neighborhood -- MP.

Link to,


Article last updated:
Friday, March 02, 2001   1:04 AM MST
NASA cuts hurt space port hopes

NASA on Thursday announced it has cut funding for the X-33, the test ship 
that San Bernardino County officials hoped would evolve into the next 
generation of space shuttle and be based at Harper Dry Lake northwest of 

The X-33 was a joint project of Lockheed Martin and NASA, and was designed 
to be a scaled-down test vehicle for the later development of VentureStar, 
which would ferry cargo and people into space at one-tenth the cost of the 
current shuttle fleet.

"We're disappointed. We've been optimistic we would receive funding under 
NASA's Space Launch Initiative to continue development of the X-33," said 
Evan McCollum, spokesman for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Denver.

The Space Launch Initiative is a competitive process run by NASA to develop 
the next generation of reusable space ships to replace the aging shuttle 
fleet. The space agency plans to award $900 million during the next 21/2 

County officials remain optimistic that Harper Dry Lake could one day become 
the space port for the next generation of shuttle, whatever form it takes.

"It's always been the county's intention to forge ahead with the space port 
regardless of which vehicle becomes the new space (shuttle)," county 
spokesman David Wert said. "If it's not the X-33 and VentureStar, it will be 
something else."

Harper Dry Lake last year was selected as the best site in California for 
the new launch complex. But several other states are still competing.

The county recently received $800,000 from the California Space and 
Technology Alliance for studies required by the Federal Aviation 

Still unclear is how the decision might affect San Bernardino-based Kelly 
Space and Technology, which is developing a reusable launch vehicle.

"It's too early to speculate on anything," said Bob Davis, president and 
chief executive officer of the company. "This is a highly competitive issue 
and we don't know how it will impact us."

The X-33 suffered a major setback in November 1999 when a fuel tank made of 
composite materials failed a test. Last year, Lockheed decided to go ahead 
with using an aluminum tank.

But the technology apparently wasn't advancing far enough or quickly enough 
for NASA.

"The benefits of testing the X-33 in flight did not justify the cost," NASA 
said in a press release.

NASA has invested $912 million in the program and Lockheed has spent $357 

Lockheed's McCollum said it's unlikely the company would try to continue the 
project with its own money, but it is competing for several other parts of 
the Space Launch Initiative, including propulsion, avionics and thermal 

"Whatever NASA chooses, Lockheed Martin wants to help develop it," he said.


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