MED-LITE ELV - McDonnell Douglas Aerospace of Huntington Beach, CA, has been awarded a contract to provide fixed-price medium-light class expendable launch vehicle services. The program is targeting launch capability in the range of 4,400 pounds to low Earth orbit. Currently there are three payloads designated as missions for the Med-Lite program. The payloads are the Fare Ultraviolet Spectroscopy Explorer (FUSE), 1998 Mars Surveyor Oribter-2, and 1998 Mars Surveyor Lander-1.

DELTA CLIPPER - An updated and re-designed version of the Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) will begin flight tests in may. The new rocket has been named the Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DC-XA) and with the X-34 and the X-33 rockets it forms NASA's Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Program. Features on the DC-XA include: composite hydrogen tank, Russian-built aluminum-lithium alloy liquid oxygen tank, composite intertank to connect hydgrogen and oxygen tanks, auxiliary porpulsion system, composite liquid hydrogen valve, and a liquid-to-gas conversion system in the flight reaction control system.

MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH GRANTS - NASA has selected the recipients of research grants from the Office of Life and Microgravity Science that will investigate the effects of low gravity on physical processes, such as the solidification of metals. The accepted proposals represent materials science, fluid physics, and low temperature/laser cooling physics. For more information, see related URL on last page.

X-36 UNVEILED - The latest X-plane, X-36, was displayed for the first time on March 19th at McDonnell Douglas in St. louis, MO. The X-36 is a remotely piloted tailless research aircraft designed for stealth that could have dramatic effects on future jet fighter plances. Although the X-36 lacks a vertical tail, the plane may out-maneuver today's best fighters. The absence of the tail results in a lower-weight aircraft that can fly farther and survive better than current fighter jets.

SUPERFUND A LA NASA - Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U. S. Geological Survey are teaming up to aid Superfund site clean-ups. The agencies are using maps generated from data returned by NASA's Airborned Visible and Infra-Red Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) to detect sources of acid mine drainage and heavy-metal contamination at the California Gulch Superfind Site. The use of mineral maps to assist clean-up efforts have saved nearly $500,000 and about a year's time in identifying areas that require immediate attention. AVIRIS is part of the Mission to Planet Earth.

SHUTTLE O-RING ISSUE RESOLVED - "After reviewing both flights and test data, and after an extensive analysis, we have concluded that the nozzle-to-case joing is robust and sturdy and that the joint's design is safe to fly," said George Abbey, Director of Johnson Space Center. The resolution of this issue clears the way for the launch of STS-76.

LAPTOP PILOT TRAINING TOOL - Dr. Steve Casner, a researcher at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA, has developed a software program for Machintosh computers that serves as an electronic tutor for flight training professionals. The software utilizes video, audio, and film clips to enhance various flight sequences. In addition to this software program, Casner also plans on developing a training program for university students who are studying to become pilots.

X-RAY TIMING EXPLORER DEDICATED - In honor of Bruno B. Rossi, NASA has named the X-ray Timing Explorer the Bruno B. Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). Rossie was a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy who with his colleagues discovered the first non-solar source of X-rays in 1962.