X-33, X-34 Contractors Selected For Negotiations

Jim Cast
Headquarters, Washington, DC   March 8, 1995
(Phone:  202/358-1779)         4:00 p.m. EST

Dom Amatore
Marshall Space Flight Center, AL
(Phone:  205/544-6533)

Release:  95-23

NASA has selected four companies to enter into negotiations for two rockets which could evolve into the first new launch systems developed by the United States since the advent of the Space Shuttle.

The fast-track X-33 and X-34 programs will feature innovative government/industry partnerships that could lead to workhorse, reusable launch systems for the early 21st century.

The three X-33 selectees are: Lockheed Advanced Development Co., Palmdale, CA; McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, Huntington Beach, CA; and Rockwell International Corporation, Space Systems Division, Downey, CA. The X-34 selectee is Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, VA.

"The innovative 'fast track' procurement process resulting in these selections is a true harbinger of how the 21st-Century 'faster, better, cheaper' NASA intends to conduct its business," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "Within a two month period, X-33 and X-34 Cooperative Agreement Notices were issued, proposals were submitted, and selections made."

The goal of NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology program is to enable significant reductions in the cost of access to space to promote the creation and delivery of new space services and other activities that will improve U.S. economic competitiveness. The program will implement the National Space Transportation Policy, issued by the White House in 1994, and will accelerate the development of new space launch technologies and concepts to contribute to the continuing commercialization of the national space launch industry.


Phase I, or the concept definition and design phase of the X-33, will be co-funded by the Government and the three contractors. Total funding provided by the Government will be $24 million during the fifteen months of Phase I.

Each participant in Phase I will develop its total X-33 business investment strategies, operations planning and vehicle design and analysis with enough detail to permit competitive selection of an industry partner or partners and their X-33 design concept(s) at the end of Phase I.

The results of Phase I will provide the basis for an Administration decision on whether to proceed with Phase II, which includes design, building and flight demonstration of the X-33, and would continue through the end of the decade.

The results of Phase II would be used by the Government and private sector to decide whether to proceed with development of an operational next generation reusable launch system.


The X-34 booster will demonstrate streamlined management techniques and advanced technologies that have application to future reusable launch vehicle systems. It also may have potential application to commercial launch vehicle capabilities and will provide significantly reduced mission costs for placing small payloads into low Earth orbit.

The development schedule will support flight tests beginning in late-1997, orbital launch by mid-1998 and test bed applications later in 1998. The current expected NASA program funding for the X-34, through Fiscal Year 1999, is $70 million. Cost-sharing contributions will match on a cumulative basis, as a minimum, the NASA funds provided directly to the offerer under the resulting Cooperative Agreement.

NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology (OSAT) conducts space research and development through sponsorship of technology programs conducted at NASA field centers, in U.S. industry, and in American universities. The OSAT Space Transportation Division supports these activities by sponsoring the development of the next generation reusable launch vehicle technologies. Marshall Space Flight Center is the host center for the X-33 and X-34 programs.

An RLV World Wide Web Site with information about the program is available over the Internet. The URL is: http://rlv.msfc.nasa.gov/rlv_htmls/rlv1.html