Mike DiMuzio (mdimuzio@cisnet.com)
Fri, 25 Jun 1999 18:10:35 +0000

> Jim Cast
> Headquarters, Washington, DC                  June 25, 1999
> (Phone:  202/358-1779)
> Leslie A. Mathews
> Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
> (Phone:  661/258-3893)
> Dominic Amatore
> Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
> (Phone:  256/544-0031)
> Barron Beneski
> Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, VA
> (Phone:  703/406-5000)
> RELEASE:  99-73
>      Locked to the belly of its newly modified L-1011 carrier
> aircraft, a test version of NASA's X-34 rocket plane is
> scheduled to make its first flight next week. The prototype
> of the robotic spacecraft will test new technologies and
> methods of operations needed to develop low-cost reusable
> space vehicles.
>      The first flight will begin at approximately 11 a.m. EDT
> on Tuesday, June 29, from NASA's Dryden Flight Research
> Center, Edwards, CA. In this series of flights, the L-1011
> and X-34 maneuvers will include a simulated launch flight.
> This captive-carry flight, in which the aircraft and test
> vehicle remain combined, will check for potentially hazardous
> conditions that may have resulted from modifications made to
> the L-1011 to enable it to carry the X-34.
>      When powered flights of the X-34 begin later this year,
> the experimental vehicle will be carried aloft by the L-1011,
> then released for rocket-powered flight and a standard
> horizontal landing.  Eventually, the X-34 will perform high-
> speed suborbital free flights to demonstrate technologies
> such as advanced thermal protection system, composite
> structural components and autonomous landing.
>      The operational program is designed to demonstrate that
> reusable launch vehicles can be more reliable, fly more often
> and in worse conditions than current vehicles using a smaller
> operations team.
>      This captive-carry flight is the first of several tests
> that will be conducted as part of a Federal Aviation
> Administration (FAA) certification process for the mated
> vehicles.  When a commercial airplane like the L-1011 is
> altered, the FAA must certify that the changes have not
> adversely affected the plane's safe operation.
>      The unpiloted X-34 is a single-engine rocket plane that
> will fly itself with onboard computers. It measures
> approximately 58 feet long, 11 feet tall and 28 feet across
> the wings.  It will be powered by the new Fastrac engine,
> designed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville,
> AL, which also manages the X-34 program for NASA.
>      Dryden Flight Research Center is supporting the captive-
> carry part of the program with flight testing and ground
> vibration tests.  In 1996, NASA awarded Orbital Sciences
> Corp., Dulles, VA, a contract now worth $85.7 million to
> design, build and test fly the X-34. The contract includes a
> structural test vehicle for vibration and captive carry
> flights and two flight vehicles. Orbital Sciences
> Corporation, Dulles, VA owns the L-1011, which also launches
> the company's Pegasus Launch Vehicle.
>                             - end -
>      Note to Editors/News Directors: NASA Television will
> carry live coverage of the June 29 flight during the noon EDT
> NASA Video File. Video showing the mating of the L-1011 with
> the X-34 and a walk around the mated vehicles with an
> explanation of modifications made to the L-1011 will be
> included in the coverage.
>       NASA Television may be accessed via satellite GE-2,
> transponder 9C, at 85 degrees west longitude, with vertical
> polarization. Frequency is on 3880.0 megahertz, with audio on
> 6.8 megahertz.
>       For press accreditation at the Dryden Flight Research
> Center please contact Leslie Mathews (phone: 805/258-3893;
> fax: 805/258-3566) or send e-mail to:
>                 leslie.mathews@dfrc.nasa.gov
>      For more information on the Advanced Space
> Transportation Program, visit its Web site:
>                    http://stp.msfc.nasa.gov
>                             * * *

41.087N  80.714W 305 meters

Mike DiMuzio    mdimuzio@cisnet.com