Key X-33 Events in 2001

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2001 February 6

Two Rocketdyne XRS-2200 linear aerospike rocket engines fired in tandem today at 10 p.m. EST for the first time ever in a 1.12-second test of the engines' ignition system. No anomalies were observed. The next test is expected to last 5 seconds and may take place in a few weeks.

2001 March 1

NASA announced today in a press release the selection of a number of companies to enter into competitive negotiations for the Space Launch Initiative (SLI). In doing so, the agency also announced that the X-33 Program would not receive Space Launch Initiative funds. The X-33 Program consequently will conclude upon completion of the cooperative agreement between NASA and Lockheed Martin on March 31, 2001. Lockheed Martin may chose to continue underwriting development of the X-33 with its own funds.

"This has been a very tough decision but we think it is the right business decision," said Art Stephenson, Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. Referring to the termination of the X-33 and the X-34 programs, Stephenson remarked: "We have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from these X-programs, but one of the things we have learned is that our technology has not yet advanced to the point that we can successfully develop a new reusable launch vehicle that substantially improves safety, reliability and affordability."

NASA investment in the X-33 program totaled $912 million, staying within its 1996 budget projection for the program. Lockheed Martin originally committed to invest $212 million, and during the life of the program increased that amount to $357 million.

2001 March 6 staff writer Brian Berger reported today that testing of the X-33 aerospike engines at NASA's Stennis Space Center has stopped following NASA's decision not to fund X-33 beyond the end of March 2001. The second of nine planned test firings of two linear aerospike engines in tandem was scheduled to take place on March 6. Stennis spokesperson Paul Foreman told Berger that Stennis officials had decided to remove the remaining eight engine tests from the schedule. No order has been given yet to remove the engines from their test stands.

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