WASHINGTON (AFPN) — The Air Force announced Sept. 7 it will not assume
program management and funding responsibility for the NASA X-33 or continue
funding beyond September 2002 for the NASA X-37 experimental demonstration

In March, NASA allowed the X-33 cooperative agreement with the contractor
to expire and deferred work on the X-37.

Both the X-33 and the X-37 are unmanned aerial vehicles. The X-33 was
designed as a technology demonstrator and a possible next step toward a
replacement for the aging space shuttle system.

The X-37 is a prototype of a reusable, flexible spacecraft that can be
launched into space by another vehicle, maneuver using its own engine, and
then re-enter the atmosphere and land. The Air Force, with the assistance
of NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office, conducted a 60-day study
of the military utility of the X-33 and X-37 programs.

Both programs have made significant contributions toward understanding
performance, cost and integration issues, and have provided valuable
information on the dynamics of launching space vehicles.

However, the Air Force assessed these programs against desired military
space plane performance requirements. Air Force officials determined neither
of these programs provide a level of military utility needed to continue
development and funding by the Air Force. Responsive spacelift is a critical
capability to support future military operations in space.

The Air Force will continue to pursue the integration of space technology
assets with NASA, working to define the future for reusable launch vehicles
and develop a national approach for our vision of space operations, officials

Related Links

  • Rep. Rohrabacher Questions Air Force Committment to Space Transformation

  • Military Spaceplane (MSP) and Reusable Launch Vehicle Study, briefing by Brig Gen Anarde
    HQ AFSPC/XP (3.2 MB Power Point)