Stennis Officials React To New Program Cut

Stennis Space had the job of testing the rocket engines that would rocket the X-33 to space. Workers have conducted approximately 24 tests on the engine. Now they'll bring the project to an end.

"Naturally it's a big let down," Boeing site director Dave Geiger said.  "it's one of those things that you hate to see end, and so it's that natural feeling that everyone will have. It's been great. It's been great excitement but it's coming to an end."

Geiger isn't the only person sad to see the project go. But NASA propulsion director Robert Lightfoot says he understands that projects like this sometimes have to end.

"Obviously we'd love to complete the test programs that we're involved in, but it's just the engine portion," Lightfoot said.  "If it's not ready and doesn't have a good business case we certainly understand the agencies needs to move in a different direction.

More than 300 people are involved in the engine test program. The good news is, Stennis officials don't anticipate losing any jobs with losing the X-33.

"We've been fortunate over the past five years to diversify our business base," Geiger said. "So although this is a disappointment to us, it won't affect our employees. We'll move them into other programs that we have and the net affect on us, it will just slow our growth rate this year."

NASA invested $912 million in the program. Lockheed-Martin invested $357 million. But Geiger says the program was not a total waste of money.

"The team at Stennis really was the shinning star in that program," he said. "We've accomplished a lot of amazing things that no one would have believed we could have five years ago.

Geiger says NASA will use the technology and knowledge gained from X33 on future space projects.