Lockheed Martin's VentureStar - Own Your Own Spacecraft
Farnborough, September 4 -- Micky Blackwell, president and chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics Sector, gave a program update on the X-33 program to develop a vehicle that Lockheed Martin has now coined VentureStar.
The X-33 Phase II development program, awarded to the Lockheed Martin team this summer, calls for a flight demonstration of the design. This phase was jointly funded by $1 billion in U.S. government money and $200 million from the industry team. Phase II runs through 1999.
The Lockheed Martin team is a "virtual company" with AlliedSignal, Rocketdyne, Rohr and Sverdrup playing a role. Lockheed's Skunk Works will take the lead in developing the unique aircraft.
Phase III will put the VentureStar in commercial operation as a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). Phase III will be privately funded through traditional investment vehicles. Jack Gordon, president of Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, estimated Phase III will cost $5 billion.
VentureStar is a pilotless vehicle, meaning passengers will be ferried into orbit without a crew. And while this may take a little adjustment on the part of a traveling public, Gordon likened it to taking a train between terminals at an airport. Perhaps, but at Mach 16 many people may not be comforted by the analogy.
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