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For Release: June 10, 1996
X-34 CONTRACTOR SELECTED FOR NEGOTIATIONS
NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, VA, for final negotiations leading to the award of a contract to build a small, reusable technology demonstrator vehicle, known as the X-34 demonstrator, and begin flight testing it in late summer of 1998.
The contract includes the first two X-34 flight tests and covers a program valued at approximately $60 million.
The fast-track X-34 program calls for demonstrating a vehicle that will be capable of flying up to 25 times a year at a cost of $500,000 or less per flight, attaining altitudes of at least 250,000 feet, and flying at speeds of up to eight times the speed of sound. Other specifications for the vehicle include use of advanced thermal protection systems and demonstration of the ability to fly subsonically through rain and fog.
Flights of the X-34 will involve testing of new technologies such as composite material structures, composite tanks and new, integrated avionics, as well as demonstrations of safe abort and autonomous landing techniques, in high cross winds, using advanced landing systems. The selection of Orbital Sciences for negotiations follows issuance of a NASA Research Announcement in March 1996, which restructured the X- 34 program.
The current program puts primary emphasis on demonstrating key technologies for a small, reusable vehicle, not tied to potential commercial applications. The X-34 effort is part of NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology program, aimed at reducing the cost of access to space, and promoting the creation and delivery of new space services and other activities that will improve U.S. economic competitiveness.