Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Space Plane Grounded

Aerospace

Far from being ready for space, NASA’s billion-dollar space plane, a critical transitional craft in replacing the Space Shuttle, is in deep trouble. The maiden test flights of the X-33 hypersonic plane were scheduled for the middle of this year. But NASA now says the prototype will not fly until at least the end of 2001.

Indeed, if the critics have their way, the X-33 may never leave the ground. At congressional hearings in April, House space subcommittee chairman Dana Rohrabacher criticized NASA’s strategy for replacing the Space Shuttle. “By resisting the philosophy of build a little, test a little, NASA had put all of our cheap-access-to-space eggs in one fragile technology basket.”

The X-33 has been an ambitious-and controversial-project from the start. The plane, being built by a NASA-Lockheed Martin partnership, is meant to demonstrate the feasibility of “single-stage-to-orbit” (SSTO) technology. If the X-33 proves the credibility of the SSTO strategy, the technology could be used in a privately funded spaceship, Venture Star, to replace the Space Shuttle.

This story is part of our July/August 2000 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

At stake is more than just a suitable replacement for the Space Shuttle. The X-33 will be NASA’s first new space-related flight test program in two decades. And many observers are watching to see whether the sometimes beleaguered space agency has any technology magic left.

Be the leader your company needs. Implement ethical AI.
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.