NASA Environmental Impact Statement
Notice of Intent 96-118
[Federal Register: October 7, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 195) [Notices] [Page 52467-52469]
From the Federal Register On-line via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
Environmental Policy Act
X-33 Program: Vehicle Design and Flight Demonstration
AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and
conduct scoping for the development and testing of the X-33 vehicle.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as
amended (42 U.S.C. 4231 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations
for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR Part 1500-1508), and NASA
policy and (14 CFR Part 1216 Subpart 1216.3), NASA intends to prepare EIS for Phase
II of the X-33 Program (hereinafter referred to as the "Program''), which would
involve development and demonstration of the X-33 test vehicle. The EIS will address
environmental issues associated with the fabrication, assembly, testing, and preparation
of the flight operations and landing sites associated with the X-33 technology demonstrator
spaceplane. The purpose of the proposed test program is to demonstrate the feasibility
of technology which could result in commercially viable Reusable Launch Vehicles
(RLV's) with certain aircraft-like operational characteristics. The proposed Phase
II of the Program would involve final design, assembly and testing the X-33 vehicle
by the year 2000.
Flight operations and landing site alternatives are under consideration to satisfy
flight testing requirements. The flight test program would require short-range, mid-range,
and long-landing sites remote from the flight operations (i.e., vehicle takeoff)
site at distances of approximately 160, 640, and 1,360 kilometers (km) (100, 400,
and 850 miles (mi)) respectively. The alternative sites for the proposed flight operations
are located Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) near Lancaster, California. Alternative
landing sites for the flight test activities are being considered in the states of
California, Utah, Montana, and Washington.
NASA is the lead agency in the preparation of the EIS. It is anticipated that
components of the U.S. Department of Defense, the of Land Management, and the Federal
Aviation Administration will act as cooperating agencies.
DATES: Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before November
29, 1996, to assure full consideration during the scoping process.
ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Dr. Rebecca C. McCaleb, Director,
Environmental Engineering and Management Office, Code AE01, Marshall Space Flight
Centers, Alabama 35812.
In addition, comments may be sent Dr. McCaleb electronically at (X33EIS@msfc.nasa.gov)
or by facsimile at 205-544-8259.
Information repositories will be maintained at the following locations:
oNASA Headquarters, Library, Room 1J20, 300 E Street SW, Washington DC 20546
oNASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Library, Building 4200, Huntsville, AL 35812
oKern County Library, Boron Branch, 27070 Highway 5, Boron, CA oKern County Library,
Ridgecrest Branch, 131 East Las Flores Street, Ridgecrest, CA 93555. oLos Angeles
County Library, Lancaster Branch, 1150 West Avenue, Lancaster, CA 93524. oPalmdale
City Library, 700 East Palmdale Boulevard, Palmdale, CA 93550. oSan Bernadino County
Library, Barstow Branch, 304 East Buena Vista, Barstow, CA 92311. oGreat Falls Public
Library, 301 2nd Avenue North, Great Falls, MT 59401. oMoses Lake Library, 418 East
5th Street, Moses Lake, WA 98837. oDugway Proving Grounds Library, 5124 Kisstler
Avenue, Dugway, UT 84022 oTooele Library, 47 East Vine Street, Tooele, UT 84074.
oSalt Lake City Library, 209 East 500 South, Business/Science Department, Salt Lake
City, UT 84111.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Dominic A. Amatore, Deputy Director, Public
Affairs Office, Code CA01, Marshall Space Flight Center AL 35812, 205-544-6533. His
office will ensure that the appropriate source of information is provided.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The key objectives of the X-33 Design and Flight Demonstration
oReduce business and technical risks to privately financed development and operation
of a next generation space transportation system through ground and flight tests
of a spaceplane technology demonstrator. oEnsure that the X-33 design and major components
are usable and scaleable to a full scale, single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) RLV oDemonstrate
"aircraft like'' operations such as reusability and affordability. oDemonstrate
autonomous capability (i.e., vehicle does not have a pilot or onboard flight crew
but is controlled by onboard flight management system vehicle is tracked by telemetry
and on systems; and intervention capability to modify trajectory is maintained at
the flight site) from takeoff to landing. oVerify operability and performance in
"real world'' environments.
The X-33 test vehicle is planned as an approximately one-half scale reusable
spaceplane. The vehicle would takeoff in a vertical position and use conventional
runways to land horizontally. The X-33 vehicle would consist of a lifting body airframe
with two cryogenic liquid propellant tanks (liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen
(LOX)) placed within the aeroshell, and would use two linear aerospike main engines.
Water would be the primary product of the LOX/LH2 combustion. The entire spaceplane
(with all fuel tanks and engines) would takeoff and land as a single unit. The flight
profile includes takeoff with engine burn until flight speed and altitude objectives
are reached; at that point, the engines would cut off.
The flight test plan to meet the Program objectives would involve flights of
approximately 160, 640, and 1,360 km (100, 400, and 850 mi). During the landing sequence,
the spaceplane would glide to the landing site in an unpowered manner. Flight tests
would involve speeds of up to Mach 15 and altitudes up to approximately 75,800 meters
(250,000 feet). None of the X-33 tests flights would achieve Earth orbit. Ground
operations and servicing (e.g., checkout, refueling, etc.) would be conducted with
"aircraft like'' procedures and systems.
The test flight program is planned to be conducted in three stages, with all
takeoffs occurring from the same flight operations site. The three stages would involve
the incremental expansion of distance and speed referred to as the "flight envelope
expansion'' which allows the development program to minimize risk while achieving
test objectives. The three stage approach would necessitate short-range, mid-range,
and long-range landing sites to achieve maximum speeds of Mach 4, 12, and 15, respectively.
After each test flight, the X-33 would be ferried back to the takeoff site by a Boeing
747 aircraft in a manner similar to that used for the transport of Space Shuttle
orbiters. The test program is currently baselined for a combined total of 15 flights.
Alternatives to be considered for this proposal include, but are not limited
oAlternative flight operations (takeoff) sites oShort-range landing sites oMid-range
landing sites oLong-range landing sites
The "no action'' alternative which defines the baseline conditions would
prevail in the absence of the X-33 test program.
Three locations within EAFB are the reasonable alternatives being considered
for the flight operations site. Reasonable short-range landing sites being considered
are Silurian Lake, a dry lake bed, northeast of Barstow, California; and China Lake
Naval Weapons Center, near Ridgecrest, California. The baseline alternative for the
mid-range landing site is Michael Army Air Field at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah.
Reasonable long-range landing sites being considered are Port of Moses Lake, Washington;
and Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, Montana. Analyses conducted to date
indicate that other potential flight operations and landing sites are inadequate
to meet the requirements of the Program. The "no action'' alternative (i.e.,
absence of the X-33 Program) would mean that the RLV Program, as planned, could not
proceed, resulting in continued reliance on existing U.S. Government owned or controlled
space launch vehicles, such as the Space Shuttle and expendable launch vehicles;
and/or space launch vehicles owned and operated by foreign governments.
The EIS will consider the potential environmental impacts associated with the
test program and related construction and modification of facilities. An initial
assessment of potential environmental impacts indicates that the EIS should focus
on sonic booms; potential effects on cultural resources, and threatened and endangered
species; on-range and off-range flight test paths; and environmental impacts at the
reasonable flight operations and landing site alternatives.
Public scoping meetings will be held at the following dates and locations:
oMonday, October 21, 1996; 7:00 p.m. Social Rehabilitative Services Auditorium,
Sanders Avenue, Helena, MT 59601. oTuesday, October 22, 1996: 6:00 p.m. Great Falls
High School, 1900 Second Avenue, South, Great Falls, MT 59405. oThursday, October
24, 1996; 7:00 p.m. Washington State National Guard Armory, 6500 32nd Avenue, N.E.,
Moses Lake, WA 98837. oMonday, October 28, 1996; 7:00 p.m. Dugway Post Theater, US
Army Dugway Proving Grounds, Dugway, UT 84022. oTuesday, October 29, 1996; 7:00 p.m.
Tooele Senior Center, 59 East Vine Street, Tooele, UT 84074. oWednesday, October
30, 1996; 7:00 p.m. Quality Inn Airport, 5575 West Amelia Earhart Drive, Salt Lake
City, UT 84116. oTuesday, November 12, 1996; 7:00 p.m. Best Western Antelope Valley
Inn, 44055 North Sierra Highway, Lancaster, CA 93534. oWednesday, November 13, 1996;
7:00 p.m. Carriage Inn, 901 North China Lake Boulevard, Ridgecrest, CA 93555. oThursday,
November 14, 1996; 7:00 p.m. West Boron Elementary School 12300 Del Oro, Boron, CA
93516. oSaturday, November 16, 1996; 10:00 a.m. Holiday Inn, 1511 East Main Street,
Barstow, CA 92311.
Written public input and comments on environmental impacts associated with the
proposed Program, including, but not limited to, flight operations and landing site
options, as well as related environmental concerns, are hereby solicited.
Dated: October 1, 1996.
Benita A. Cooper,
Associate Administrator for Management
Systems and Facilities.
[FR Doc. 96-25643 Filed 10-4-96; 8:45 am]
Back to 1996 Time Line