NASA and Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works have completed the final preliminary-design review (PDR) for the X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle technology-demonstration programme. This PDR was for the operations and ground segment at Edwards AFB, California, where construction of a 10Ha (25 acre) launch area will begin in October.

The X-33, a half-scale demonstrator of a potential RLV, is scheduled to have up to 15 sub-orbital flights during a ten-month period, starting in March 1999.

Launched vertically from Edwards, the X-33 will fly at speeds of up to Mach 15 and to altitudes approaching 80km. Potential landing sites are in California, Montana, Utah and Washington state (Flight International, 13-19 November, 1996).

Source: Flight International