jonerik writes "According to this article at Space.com, NASA yesterday released a status report on the first year of NASA's Space Launch Initiative; the search for a space shuttle replacement, currently planned to begin operating ten years from now. The competing contractors - Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and a team consisting of Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences Corp. - have their work cut out for them. NASA is looking for both a ten-fold improvement in per-pound launch costs (from $10,000 per pound to $1,000) and massive improvements in crew survivability."In related news, Rubyflame writes: "Aviation Now has a story about four new kerosene-fueled rocket engines being developed by Aerojet, Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne, and TRW. These are engines that will produce a million pounds of thrust, intended to outdo Russian designs in reliability and launch cost, and one of them may power a new reusable launch vehicle. Kerosene has the advantage that it's denser than hydrogen, so the fuel tanks can be smaller."