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The most impressive evidence that we have for the existence of black holes on a scale of stellar masses is dependent on observations of a handful of special X-ray binary systems. The majority of these cases are associated with X-ray novae. Hard X-ray and gamma-ray observatories continue to discover 1-2 novae per year, and several of these exhibit remarkable outburst characteristics. Multifrequency coverage of both the recent novae and also the 'quiescent' states of the older novae has promoted our understanding of the outburst mechanism and the context in which to measure these episodes.
The X-ray Timing Explorer will substantially extend the science of black hole binaries; some of the anticipated investigation topics will be reviewed. With regard to instrumentation, the All-Sky Monitor (ASM) will reduce the timescale for nova discovery to $\sim8$ hr and improve the frequency and depth of coverage during outburst decay. The major instruments, PCA and HEXTE, will expand the range of spectral coverage, while simultaneously providing microsecond time resolution of the radiation processes in the inner accretion disk. These capabilities will also be applied to the black hole binaries and candidates that are persistent X-ray sources. The XTE program is further empowered with scheduling tools and observation policies that are devoted to scientific productivity, including the facilitation of coordinated observations, a sophisticated program for 'targets of opportunity', the placement of ASM results in a public archive, and allowances for 'state-contingent' propo! sals from guest observers.
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