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X-37 / Future X / Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV)

NASA is considering asking for funding for an X-37 flight test vehicle. This will provide the agency has a sustainable research and technology program in space transportation. There will be a need for a research vehicle after X-33. And one of the facts of the hypersonic or the very high speed vehicle business is that the place to validate systems and components is in-flight. So the team at Marshall and other centers, is working to put together a sustainable research and technology program with flight demonstration, where appropriate, in the investment strategy, that is called X-37 by some. The intended objective of the program is to demonstrate the next generation of technologies. The technologies in X-33 are frozen at 1994. Assuming success at this level of technology, the future requirements of NASA and the commercial industry are going to require a next generation of technologies, and NASA would be ready to develop those and to validate them in the X-37 experimental flight program. While the X-33 is a demonstrator for Earth-to-orbit technologies, Future X demonstrators will flight test technologies for multiple applications including orbital and commercial transport, military spaceplane, human exploration, multi-stage and hypersonics research.

In December 1998 NASA selected the Boeing Company, Downey, Calif., for negotiations leading to possible award of a four-year cooperative agreement to develop the first in a continuous series of advanced technology flight demonstrators called Future-X. The total value of the cooperative agreement, including NASA and Boeing contributions, is estimated at $150 million, with an approximate 50/50 sharing agreement.

Work conducted under this initiative may include:

Work under this cooperative agreement will begin immediately after successful negotiations. In addition, three companies and three NASA Centers were selected for seven Future-X flight experiments with an estimated value of $24 million. The Future-X effort is managed by the Space Transportation Programs Office at NASA's Marshall Space Fight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Future-X vehicles and flight experiments will demonstrate technologies that improve performance and reduce development, production and operating costs of future Earth-to-orbit and in-space transportation systems. Under the cooperative agreement Boeing and NASA will advance 29 separate space transportation technologies through development and flight demonstrations of a modular orbital flight testbed called the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV). The ATV is first-ever experimental vehicle that will be flown in both orbital and reentry environments.

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