NASA's X-34 reusable launcher vehicle technology demonstrator programme could be delayed for up to two years and its scope reduced following a review of the programme by the space agency.

The $89.7 million programme is led by prime contractor Orbital Sciences, which began work on the project in 1996. Following the review, powered test flights are now likely to slip from late this year to 2002. NASA is also considering reducing the planned 27 flights to six and cutting the maximum speed of Mach 8 to Mach 2.5.

The space agency is also proposing that all flights be conducted at the Dryden Research Center in California and none from the Kennedy Space Center as previously planned. The move to Dryden leaves the Reusable Launch Vehicle support building at Kennedy, part-funded by Spaceport Florida, without a vehicle to support.

Source: Flight International