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May 30, 1997

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(281) 483-5111

Release: J97-20


First X-38 Atmospheric Test Vehicle to be Loaded For Shipment

News Media will have an opportunity to photograph the first X-38 atmospheric test vehicle at 1 p.m. CDT Tuesday, June 3, at NASA Hangar 990, Ellington Field, Houston, as it is being prepared for shipment on a cargo aircraft to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, CA to begin unpiloted flight tests.

Artist’s concept of X-38 The X-38 is an innovative new spacecraft being designed at the Johnson Space Center to validate technologies required for a future International Space Station (ISS) emergency crew return "lifeboat"which would be delivered to the ISS by the Space Shuttle. This concept could also lead to a possible joint U.S. and European human spacecraft that could be launched on a French Ariane 5 booster rocket. The completed atmospheric test vehicle is the first of three such experimental vehicles being outfitted at JSC for unpiloted drop tests from a NASA B-52 aircraft in California. A space flight test vehicle also will be built largely at JSC and is planned to be launched on the Space Shuttle for an unpiloted space flight in 2000. Once operational early in the next century, the ISS Crew Return Vehicle may become the first new human spacecraft to travel to and from Earth orbit in more than 20 years.

Media are asked to contact the JSC newsroom at (281) 483-5111 by 12 noon CDT Tuesday if they plan to attend. Engineers and managers working on the X-38 project will be available at Ellington for brief interviews.


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