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SSRT: X-33 Announcement Schedule Update, and SAU no. 66

>Return-Path: chrisj@mail.utexas.edu
>From: chrisj@mail.utexas.edu (Chris W. Johnson)
>To: "Single Stage Rocket Technology News" <ssrt-news@zimbazi.cc.utexas.edu>
>Subject: SSRT: X-33 Announcement Schedule Update, and SAU no. 66
>Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 13:43:38 -0600
>Sender: listserv@zimbazi.cc.utexas.edu
>X-listname: <ssrt-news@zimbazi.cc.utexas.edu>
>1. Latest schedule update on X-33 announcement. (Ron Baalke)
>2. Space Access Update no. 66. (Henry Vanderbilt)
>From: baalke@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov (Ron Baalke)
>Subject: Vice President Gore To Announce Builder of the X-33
>Followup-To: sci.space.policy
>Date: 28 Jun 1996 13:50:30 -0700
>Organization: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
>Lines: 50
>James Cast
>Headquarters, Washington, DC                  June 28, 1996
>(Phone:  202/358-1779)
>Franklin O'Donnell
>Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
>(Phone:  818/354-5011)
>     America will come a step closer to having a
>revolutionary new reusable launch vehicle -- called the X-33
>-- when Vice President Albert Gore announces the selection of
>the company that will design, fabricate and flight test the
>new space vehicle.
>     Vice President Gore will make the announcement July 2,
>from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA.
>Coverage of the announcement will be carried on NASA
>Television beginning approximately 12:15 p.m. PDT.
>     At approximately 1:15 p.m. PDT, NASA Administrator
>Daniel S. Goldin and Gary Payton, Director of NASA's Reusable
>Launch Vehicle Program, will hold a press conference to
>explain the objectives of the program and why this new
>vehicle will be commercially efficient and profitable for
>American industry.
>     The first flight for the X-33 is scheduled for March
>1999.  More rigorous flight tests and operational
>demonstrations, including completion of at least a dozen
>flights, are scheduled by December 1999.
>     The announcement and press conference will be broadcast
>live on NASA Television with two-way question and answer
>capability from participating NASA locations.  NASA
>Television is carried on Spacenet-2, transponder 5, channel
>9, at 69 degrees West longitude, frequency 3880.0 MHz, audio
>6.8 Megahertz.
>     Media representatives planning to attend the event
>should contact the Vice President's press office for
>accreditation. Requests for accreditation should be made on
>the letterhead of the news organization and faxed to
>Mr. Corey Black at 310/458-5347. The phone number for the
>Vice President's press office for this event is 310/458-4287.
>                    -end-
>From: hvanderbilt@BIX.com (hvanderbilt on BIX)
>Subject: Space Access Update #66  7/1/96
>Followup-To: sci.space.policy
>Date: 2 Jul 1996 00:19:20 -0700
>Lines: 232
>                    Space Access Update #66  7/1/96
>                 Copyright 1996 by Space Access Society
>Coming up soon: A detailed report on DC-XA's first three flights, and some
>SAS thoughts on NASA goings-on, with a close look at the X-34 decision.
>Stories this issue:
> - VP Gore To Announce White House Go-Ahead, X-33 Winner Tuesday July 7
> - Other X-33 News
>      - Austin To Co-Locate In SoCal With Winning Bidder
>      - New AA For Space Access Part Of Latest NASA HQ Reorg Plan
>      - Second X-33 Flight Vehicle Part Of Bids?
> - DC-XA Flight 4 Delayed At Least Till Mid-July
> - RLV Miscellany
>-----------------------(SAS Policy Boilerplate)------------------------
>Space Access Update is Space Access Society's when-there's-news
>publication. Space Access Society's goal is to promote affordable access
>to space for all, period.  We believe in concentrating our resources at
>whatever point looks like yielding maximum progress toward this goal.
>Right now, we think this means working our tails off trying to get the
>government to build and fly a high-speed reusable rocket demonstrator, one
>or more "X-rockets", in the next three years, in order to quickly build up
>both experience with and confidence in reusable Single-Stage To Orbit
>(SSTO) technology.  The idea is to reduce SSTO technical uncertainty (and
>thus development risk and cost) while at the same time increasing investor
>confidence, to the point where SSTO will make sense as a private commercial
>investment.  We have reason to believe we're not far from that point now.
>Our major current focus is on supporting the government's fully reusable
>single-stage rocket technology programs, the low-speed DC-XA, and its
>high-speed followon, the X-33 NASA/DOD/industry cooperative project.
>With luck and hard work, we should see fully-reusable rocket testbeds flying
>into space well before the end of this decade, with practical orbital
>transport projects getting underway.  Join us, and help us make it happen.
>            Henry Vanderbilt, Executive Director, Space Access Society
>To join Space Access Society or buy the SSTO/DC-X V 3.0 video we have for
>sale (Two hours, includes all eight DC-X flights, X-33 animations, X-33,
>DC-X and SSTO backgrounders, aerospike engine test-stand footage, plus
>White Sands Missile Range DC-X ops site post flight footage) mail a check
>to:  SAS, 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044.  SAS membership with
>direct email of Space Access Updates is $30 US per year; the SSTO V 3.0
>video is $25, $5 off for SAS members, $8 extra for shipping outside the US
>and Canada, VHS NTSC only.
>  VP Gore To Announce White House Go-Ahead, X-33 Winner Tuesday July 7
>Word is the White House has approved construction go-ahead for X-33, NASA's
>subscale high-speed reusable rocket flight demonstrator.  Vice President Al
>Gore will announce the winner of the three-bidder design contest at the Jet
>Propulsion Labs (JPL), the NASA space science center in Pasadena
>California.  NASA Select TV coverage begins at 12:15 pm pacific time on
>Tuesday July 2nd, according to a NASA press release.
>Rumor has it that the VP will emphasize the hi-tech nature of the project
>by opening an envelope containing the bid-submission CD-ROM of the winning
>bidder.  We expect the occasion will also serve as a Presidential campaign
>event; SAS with others was actively encouraging the political consideration
>of all three bidders being southern California based as a factor in the
>White House's go/no-go decision for the billion-dollar, three-year project.
>Whatever works - and apparently this did.  California with its large number
>of electoral votes is of course an important state in any Presidential
>The ceremony will be carried on NASA Select TV, and we'd guess there will
>also be some network coverage Tuesday evening.  Dan Goldin, Administrator
>of NASA, and Gary Payton, NASA's Director of Reusable Launch Vehicles, will
>hold a press conference on NASA Select at 1:15 pm PDT, explaining what X-33
>is and what today's events mean.
>The winning bidder for X-33 meanwhile is one of the best-kept secrets
>around.  As we understand it, Gary Payton was running the source selection,
>and he so far has told only Dan Goldin, in the presence of NASA's chief
>legal counsel as a witness.  So until tomorrow around noon, three people in
>the world know.  We understand the bidders and of course VP Gore will be
>informed a few minutes before the actual public announcement.  Until then,
>well, we're all in suspense.
>Our compliments to Mr Payton, by the way, for running what seems an
>extraordinarily clean source selection.  It's been frustrating, mind, as we
>haven't even gotten reliable rumors out of the process, but that is after
>all the way these things are supposed to be done.
>We'll go out on a limb now anyway and try to rank the bidders, based purely
>on what we do know, what we can guess, the rumors we don't totally
>disbelieve, and our own hard-earned prejudices.
>On a purely technical basis, we'd guess first place goes to McDonnell-
>Douglas's wingless vertical-takeoff, vertical landing design, by a small
>margin over Lockheed-Martin's VTHL lifting body, with Rockwell's winged-
>body VTHL a middlin' third.  Lock-Mart's design is probably the most
>elegant of the three engineeringwise, packing the most function into the
>smallest most closely integrated package, but elegance isn't everything.
>Rockwell's design has the advantage of simplicity; MDA's has the dual
>advantages of simplicity and their DC-X experience.  MDA's VTVL design has
>an advantage over both horizontal landers in being inherently easier to
>incrementally flight test - a VTHL design's minimum flight must get high
>and fast enough to transition to a horizontal glide for landing, while a
>VTVL can fly lower stress DC-X-first-flight style "bunny hops" to start
>out its flight test program.
>Financially, it's anybody's guess.  This is a cooperative program and the
>size of the corporate contribution counts.  Early rumor had it that
>Lockheed-Martin was offering by far the biggest chunk of matching funds,
>with Rockwell second and MDA a distant third - but that was rumor.
>Further, our understanding of the X-33 CAN is that bidders had latitude to
>adjust bids even after the official submission.  No telling who finally
>came up with the best cash offer.
>And we suspect that bidder contributions will be a major factor in the
>final decision.  No telling till tomorrow who dug the deepest to win this
>                            Other X-33 News
> - Austin To Co-Locate In SoCal With Winning Bidder
>We hear the first thing that'll happen after the winner is announced is
>that Gene Austin, NASA's X-33 project manager, will fly out to California
>to begin setting up a project office co-located with the winning bidder,
>moving his team out from NASA Marshall in Huntsville.  We think this is a
>great idea; anything that simplifies communications will be a help - X-33
>first flight is scheduled for three years from now, and the less time
>wasted flying back and forth across the country the more likely that tight
>schedule will be met.
> - New AA For Space Access Part Of Latest NASA HQ Reorg Plan
>We also noticed in a planning document posted on the unofficial "NASA RIF
>Watch" web site (http://www.reston.com/rif/watch.html) that NASA OSAT (the
>Office of Space Access & Technology, "Code X") is likely to be split to
>produce a pure Space Access function with its own direct-report-to-Goldin
>Associate Administrator in charge.  We think the logical person for this
>new post is Gary Payton; we think this would enhance the efficiency of the
>X-33 and RLV projects in general by further shortening the lines of command.
> - Second X-33 Flight Vehicle Part Of Bids?
>We've heard that the X-33 bidders have been asked to cost a second flight
>vehicle as part of their bids; we heartily approve, as a second vehicle
>(even if only in the form of "long-lead spares") is important insurance
>against the risk of losing the first X-33 during flight test.  And we'd
>still really like to see a second runner-up X-33 bidder brought into the
>competition as insurance against the main winner getting complacent or
>laying an egg engineeringwise, at whatever level of activity Congress might
>be willing to fund.
>                              Other News
> - DC-XA Flight 4 Delayed At Least Till Mid-July
>The DC-XA "Clipper Graham"'s fourth flight has been delayed a couple
>weeks, to mid-July at earliest.  As best we can tell from the info we have,
>a new auxiliary power unit (APU) that was due to be used the first time on
>flight four has turbine problems of some sort.  Or possibly one of the four
>RL-10-a5 rocket motors has a turbopump problem, but we suspect this is a
>garbled version of the APU problem.
>The first three DC-XA flights were quite successful, a high point being the
>(revolutionary for complex reusable rockets) 26-hour turnaround
>demonstrated between flights 2 and 3 in early June.  There was some
>excitement at landing in the first two flights, mind - both a steel-grid
>landing platform on flight 1 and a prepared dry-lakebed surface on flight 2
>turned out to behave somewhat differently than expected.
>The landing grid did cut vehicle base heating as planned, but also produced
>unexpected flow patterns, leading to a maneuvering flap popping open
>eighteen feet up then catching fire when the actual touchdown was too soft
>to trigger the engine cutoff switches for a couple of seconds.  And the
>water-treated, compacted lakebed mud of the flight two landing site turned
>out to disintegrate under 5000 degree rocket blasts; flight two dug much
>larger trenches than expected.  Flight three precision-landed without
>incident on a corner of the original concrete pad.
>                             RLV Miscellany
> - Reusable rocket research funding in the USAF looks likely to be between
>$25 million and $50 million for FY'97.  FY'96 funding was $25 million to
>USAF Phillips Labs, who will be managing flight test planning and ops for
>NASA X-33.
> - Overall RLV funding at NASA for FY'97 looks pretty firmly set at $283
>million - of that, roughly $250 million should go to getting X-33 off to a
>fast start.  Stay tuned for more once the details of the winning bid are
>- And our congratulations to Dezi Gage at McDonnell-Douglas, who is
>getting married this month and moving to be with her new husband - we're
>not entirely convinced McDonnell-Douglas's RLV efforts won't grind to a
>halt once she's gone.  Best of luck, Dezi!
> Space Access Society      "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere
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+  Weave a circle 'round him thrice, and close your eyes with holy dread...   +
+                                                                             +