Boeing Co. and NASA reached agreement on a $173-million contract to jointly develop an experimental space plane, called the X-37, that will serve as a test bed for new technologies for reusable launch vehicles. NASA is pushing development of reusable space vehicles, including the suborbital X-33 shuttle, as key to its goal of reducing the cost of placing space vehicles and cargo into orbit. The 13,000-pound, 27-foot X-37 will be designed to be ferried into orbit by the space shuttle or launched by an expendable rocket. It will be unpiloted and capable of speeds up to Mach 25. The agreement calls for Boeing and the federal government to share costs equally. Boeing officials said the program will not affect hiring. Work will be done at Boeing facilities in Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Palmdale and St. Louis.
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