Space: October 18, 2000

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NASA is paying $68 million to keep its $912 million X-33 program alive. The program was to have flown 15 test flights of the single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane by Dec 2000. After serious problems and setbacks (the honeycomb fuel tanks won't work and had to be replaced by aluminum, which is heavier and has affected design and performance), it won't fly before 2003 and even then only if major new funding is provided. Analysts are still asking why the Aerospike-driven Venture Star was picked over the Delta Clipper, which had already conducted numerous successful test flights.--Stephen V Cole

 


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