Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Space Science

NASA Unveils Design for New Space Launch System 288

wooferhound writes with an article in the Orlando Sentinel about NASA's Deep Space Exploration project. From the article: "After months of debate, NASA has settled on plans for its next spaceship — a space shuttle hybrid that will fly twice in the next decade and cost $30 billion through 2021, according to senior administration officials and internal NASA documents. That NASA decided to recycle elements of the shuttle is not unexpected. Last year, Congress and the White House agreed NASA should reuse equipment from old programs and the new design — which includes a giant fuel tank and two booster rockets — largely reflects that compromise. The most noticeable change is the plane-like orbiter will be replaced by an Apollo-like crew capsule atop the tank." The Space Launch System will be powered by a combination of the Shuttle main engine for the core launch stage, and the J-2 engine (from the Saturn V project) for the upper stage. The same solid booster rockets used for Shuttle missions will be used for at least the initial unmanned launch in 2017, but NASA will have a design contest to replace them for the 2021 crewed launch and beyond.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Unveils Design for New Space Launch System

Comments Filter:
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:47AM (#37399604)

    And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

    • A Saturn V that carries a Space Shuttle.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:55AM (#37399720)

        Except according to the article (and even summary), this "shuttle" is really just a somewhat larger version of an Apollo crew capsule.

        • This isn't a shuttle for ferrying things back and forth to orbit, that's what private enterprise is for. This is an Exploration Class vehicle, in that it can actually go places and do things. Only the US has had a manned Exploration Class Vehicle, and that was 40 years ago. This is completely different.
      • Saturn V looking rocket with strap on boosters like a Soyuz, with a small capsule on top? The 1960s were so great we're going to go back to them?

        • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @02:22PM (#37401654) Homepage Journal
          The 1960s were so great we're going to go back to them?
          Let's see. Moon Rockets, SR-71, Boeing 747, Boeing 737, Concorde, Arpanet, RAM, BASIC, Electronic Fuel Injection.
          I'd say the 60's is pretty much the local peak of human achievement.
        • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @03:02PM (#37402094) Homepage
          Those strap on boosters are very unlike that of Soyuz / R-7 rocket. In the latter, they are very similar to core stage, burning the same fuel mixture (kerosene and oxygen; a mix very suitable for first stages, giving nice balance of good specific impulse, high fuel and exhaust density, hence small tanks and large static thrust; a sweet spot, one sort of aimed at in coupling and "averaging" characteristics of STS hydrogen-burning engines with SRBs ...yeah, "so why not just use kerosene?", like Saturn V also did BTW)

          Generally, seeing capsules as a step backwards is at odds with basic chronology. Everybody at first expected "aerodynamic" or "spaceplane-ish" shapes from reentry vehicles, and worked towards it hard. They proved relatively unworkable. Blunt shape entry capsule was a relatively late innovation, an improvement; and a bit of a surprise. There's nothing wrong with capsules; physics, rocket equation, are a bitch.

          Soyuz also worked out fine, being "the most reliable ... most frequently used launch vehicle in the world" [] (and one of least expensive ones). With designs like Angara or Falcon improving even more on the concept, for example with parallel grouping of identical first stages (bringing even more benefits of mass production)
    • And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

      Don't worry. That's only this week's proposal. They won't build it and next week's proposal will be better. And it won't be build either.

    • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:55AM (#37399722)

      Not really. More like, they're reusing designs for some Saturn V components (the J-2 engine for the 2nd and 3rd stages of that rocket) and designs for some Shuttle components (the orbiter's main engines) as analogous components in this vehicle. If it ain't broke, don't reinvent the wheel, we won't be fooled again etc.

      • by AJWM ( 19027 )

        they're reusing designs for some Saturn V components (the J-2 engine for the 2nd and 3rd stages of that rocket)

        Actually TFA (vs the summary) says they're using the J-2X, which is almost but not completely unlike the original J-2. It's a redesign. Same fuels, same general design, but different in most details.

      • Will that be a return to turbo-props and a wooden frame.
        What NASA appear to be saying is that they've made no significant progress in spacecraft or engine design over the past 40 years.

        If all they've done is stagnate, then the NEXT iteration after that can only be the start of the slide backwards.
        (Note to self: start learning to ride a horse and hunt with a bow.)

    • by emc ( 19333 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:15PM (#37399966)

      And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

      To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, "Apollo in 1969. Shuttle in 1981. Nothing in 2011. Our space program would look awesome to anyone living backwards thru time."

      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        Dude is totally underestimating the value of the shuttle.

        He should know oh so much better.

        Ask him how Hubble would have got up there--and got repaired--without it.

        • by sznupi ( 719324 )
          The largest user of Hubble-like sats launches them on not-Shuttles for quite some time now. The number of "rendezvous, dock, supply spare parts" operations done by not-Shuttle absolutely dwarfs the number of times Shuttle did it.

          Many non-core ISS segments had to be put up by Shuttle only because they were designed to give it purpose. Doing it with some expendable launcher and small orbital tug would be almost certainly more optimal.

          Most of the useful, reusable, valuable cargo was brought down from orb
          • The latter was conceptually obsolete before it seriously got onto drawing boards.

            Shuttle became conceptually obsolete when they decided to stop building them after five were completed.

            The only way Shuttle could hope to make sense was if we'd begun expanding our manned presence in space (space stations, lunar runs, that sort of thing) enormously. Note that 50 Shuttle flights per year means that over the lifetime of the Shuttle, we'd have been able to build a space station 50 times as big as ISS, and still

            • by sznupi ( 719324 )
              We would be able to build a station 20 times as big as the ISS merely by not wasting huge quantities of upmass on airframe launched into space. The Shuttle approach was what killed our expansion into space. Didn't brought any real new capability (with automatic rendezvous and docking done since the 60s, and capsules returning large valuable cargo just as long), while expanding costs.

              Or go on and continue "what if" dreaming which assumes completely unsustainable levels of funding...
        • Ask him how Hubble would have got up there--and got repaired--without it.

          They could have launched them the same way the military has been launching similar spy satellites for 40 years: expendable rockets.

          And with the money they would have saved by not using the Shuttle, they could have afforded to build and launch a new Hubble Telescope to replace the broken one.

      • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @02:14PM (#37401542) Homepage Journal

        "Apollo in 1969. Shuttle in 1981. Nothing in 2011. Our space program would look awesome to anyone living backwards thru time."

        Nothing in 2011? I thought we launched two rockets to the moon just a few days ago, and it was ho-hum routine! Look at the stuff crawling around on Mars right now, and think of how lame they would be by comparison, had the mission occured in 1969 or 1981.

        Maybe we ought to be happy we don't need to impress cold war rivals anymore. Imagine if in the 1960s, you told someone that 3000 deaths would be considered a big deal that would shake up international affairs for a decade. They probably misunderstand you. They'd think you were talking about the death toll per some kind of futurist micro-nuke MIRV, which would fit into individual ICBMs by the hundreds.

        Play the tape forward, Tyson, not backward. See through the special effects and pay attention to the plot.

    • Well since this seems to be the Ares V but slightly less ambitious, which is sold as a lego like rehash of space shuttle and saturn technology it's really not worth getting too excited about as a piece of news.
      Sorry I'm supposed to be a space geek - Go Mediocre rehash of 40+ year old designs!!!

      Don't get me wrong I like small incremental steps, I believe it's essential to getting into space reliably and cheaply, but I just wish they would stop changing the specification and just build them. IME The thing tha

      • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @02:09PM (#37401474)

        Go Mediocre rehash of 40+ year old designs!!!

        There's nothing wrong with using old designs. There's even nothing wrong with making a mediocre hash of old designs if it results in a large cost savings. Cost, after all, is the big problem with these kinds of systems, not capability.

        But an expensive mediocre rehash of old designs needs to be killed with fire. This is a make-work jobs program, not a launch system.

    • Not exactly. The Saturn V and the SLS are rather different. Aside from what should be obviously different--switching from vac-tubes to transistor style stuff--one of the interesting features of the SLS is that unlike the Saturn V it is mission configurable. It is possible to select a set of mission appropriate stages rather than being stuck with one heavy lift configuration. With respect to fuel at least this will make things considerably cheaper. If you aren't lifting 130 mT to Mars but rather 50 mT t

      • Vacuum tubes my fat ass.
        Back in high school my electronics teacher brought in one of his prized possessions. (He had worked on the Apollo project.) An IC removed from one of the Apollo command modules. (I do not remember which.) It was a defective module, but I remember it clearly. White ceramic, dripping with gold.
        Little known fact: The Apollo project was one of the first practical uses of integrated circuits. (For weight savings.)
        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          You were able to get those surplus TI components for quite a wile in the late 70's and early 80's. I had several NASA spec 74xx series logic chips that I bought as surplus parts from various parts houses and even at the Dayton Hamfest. They were NOT "dripping with gold" it looked like gold on the outside as the legs were gold plated for corrosion and the Die cover was a gold color but was not gold. The cool part was getting your hands on NASA/Aircraft grade sockets. milled pins with a latching mechanis

          • Removed from a command module. He worked fro NASA, during the Apollo project. This is what we were told.
            He could have been making it up. But I prefer to believe I held in my hand part of the Apollo project.
      • I'm sure there are plenty of launchers than can lift 70mT and 130mt.

        70mT = 140 pounds.
        130mT = 260 pounds.

        • Forgive me if I'm ignorant, I normally do not deal with metric tons and I was using NASA's article as source.

          70 metric tons (mT) and will be evolvable to 130 mT

          If this is not correct perhaps you should educate NASA and while you're at it let me in on how to properly express 70 metric tons using the abbreviated form.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Not really a modern saturn V would have been better.
      Why don't they use the F-1a upgraded engines they built and tested in the late 60s with a modern LiAl structure for the first stage? Get ride of the SRBs unless you want an even higher lift version. Heck you could even later develop a fly back first stage at some point in the future.

  • by RetiredMidn ( 441788 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:55AM (#37399732) Homepage
    How is this different from the canceled Ares? Or they just trim out the LEO variant?
    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      How is this different from the canceled Ares? Or they just trim out the LEO variant?

      They painted it white.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:56AM (#37399738) Journal
    about how much NASA costs, I just posted this same link on another site. It shows an outstanding graph of the overall federal budget for 2011 broken down by Agency.

    As the Bad Astronomer says in his writing, find NASA's budget.

    The link [].

    *Ok, I'm a bit late as the ranting has already begun
    • Interesting as that graph may be (and mildly deceptive as well.. but I'll ignore that), that doesn't change the fact that NASA is spending quite a lot of money. Comparing it to the DoD budget is like saying "well, I'm spending $500,000 dollars on a house, so I should be able to buy 5 iPads, right? It's cheap by comparison, so I'm not wasting my money!" It isn't a valid argument, not by itself.

      What you need for an argument is that NASA is far more important than the other sections of the budget. Which is tr

      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        the spending should benefit everyone indiscriminately

        Long ago proved to be a false goal.

        Spending that benefits some directly and others indirectly and some barely is spending you can manage. Trying to make sure that you, personally, see a tangible benefit from every dollar of spending is a limitation that no budgetary process can tolerate.

        As for the rules, they are: 1. Congress may tax you as it chooses. 2. Congress may spend as it chooses. The treasury is thiers, not yours.

        There are no other rules, as long as they don't somehow violate other binding par

    • The prison system gets almost as much as NASA.

      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        Prisons get $8 billion. NASA gets about $18 billion.

        So, what we really need to do here is...spend more on Science and Math education...

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Best part of that (so far): whoever coded that widget made the rollover info box STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE CURSOR.

      (Standing ovation.)

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:00PM (#37399806) Homepage

    So if you thought that the shuttle was a political compromise of various different interests this will look even worse. There's one primary reason that this new design uses so much of the shuttle: whiny lobbyists and politicians who want to make sure that the factories in their home districts stay doing the exact same thing. To most Slashdot readers the space program isn't what may be the first stepping stones to the stars, and we imagine people a thousand years from now looking back on this early age as we look back on the great achievements of the past. These people don't look at that way. They look at this as one more form of pork. And frankly, given how bad the economy is, I sort of understand that. Their home districts need every job they can get.

    But even given that, this still pisses me off. This will have less lift capacity than the Saturn V or the shuttle, will be less frequently launchable, will be essentially not reusable. This is a clear step backwards. More expensive and less capable. Great way to go.

    • Admittedly, pork that puts you on the moon is still pretty good pork. Apollo was pork for Boeing, Douglas, North American, Grumman -- oh look at that, the top four military jet manufacturers got one stage each! Pork that everyone wants to see spent and achieves awesome goals takes on a different character.

      The challenge has been in trying to keep the program moving forward scientifically. When there was a challenge and people were getting these vast sums of money in order to invent new technologies and pu

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Admittedly, pork that puts you on the moon is still pretty good pork.

        If this thing ever goes to the Moon they'll find tourists waving at them at the landing site, having flown there for a fraction of the cost using a Falcon 9 Heavy.

        • Nota bene, my point is that Apollo was good pork in 1969. If there were private contractors designing heavy-lift vehicles in the late 60s, or Mars rovers today, I guess you'd have point. The problem with the private contractors is they only want to make what others will buy, and nobody would have paid $100 billion for a ticket to the moon.

          And if all SpaceX is doing is taking NASA-funded inventions and reselling them to our defense establishment at a 20% markup, meanwhile packing along tourists at $1 milli

          • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

            Nota bene, my point is that Apollo was good pork in 1969. If there were private contractors designing heavy-lift vehicles in the late 60s, or Mars rovers today, I guess you'd have point.

            No-one was building heavy-lift rockets because they make no financial sense. One of the biggest contributors to launch cost is flight rate, and with similar technology levels a smaller rocket which flies a hundred times a year will almost always end up costing much less per pound in orbit than a huge monster than flies once a year; there are a lot of payloads for a $50 million ten-ton launcher but tthe 100+ ton payloads that can afford to pay a couple of billion dollars a time just don't exist outside of NA

            • For a conventional rocket, to some extent you are correct. The aerospace industry has lots of experience with a "learning curve", the more of the same kind of item you make on a production line, the more you learn how to do it faster and cheaper. But there is a "forgetting curve", so if you do it less than two per month, in the couple of weeks between instances of the same task, your production workers *forget*, and you don't gain from experience. So yeah, do it often enough, and costs should come down.


    • So if I were in Congress and I was asked to spend money on something that would bring no obvious benefit to the folks that elected me and would almost certain to be used against me in the next election, how do you think I would vote?
    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      This will have less lift capacity than the Saturn V or the shuttle

      Half right. Read TFA.

      make sure that the factories in their home districts stay doing the exact same thing

      Only until 2017. Read TFS.


      • Right. I read too quickly, so this will have more lift capacity than the shuttle, and if things go well will about tie the Saturn V.

        Only until 2017. Read TFS.

        Really? Want to bet on whether congress will force further extensions of the same stuff?

    • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @02:00PM (#37401336) Homepage

      This will have less lift capacity than ... the shuttle

      What is the point of including the wasted upmass of airframe? Excluding it, the lift capability of STS was in the range of many inexpensive expendable launchers; and there's nothing wrong with expandability - physics, rocket equation, are a bitch.

      Some simple, back of the napkin calculations so you might get the feel of how much waste the "spaceplane" scifi cargo cult dream brought with it: the empty weight of the orbiter was 80 tons, weight at liftoff 110 tons including maximum payload of 24 tons. Lets be generous and assume, say, a capsule of 15 tons for comparable crew transport capabilities (other capabilities being superfluous []), launched on a typical ~20+ tons launcher... that gives a wasted upmass of around 70 tons in each Shuttle launch.

      Through 134 successful launches. Over 9000* tons of launched mass which could be in LEO, but was wasted on Buck Rogers style contraption.
      Even if merely half of that was used for a space station, it would an order of magnitude larger than the ISS, probably easily of the spinning, "gravity" generating type. And on a somewhat higher orbit (ISS was for a long time on non-optimal one so that Shuttle would be able to reach it with usable payloads)

      *Yes, I perhaps slightly inflated the above "70" ( ~65 being more realistic), but I wanted badly to sneak in the 9k line ;p

  • by afidel ( 530433 )
    Is this the DIRECT proposal, and if so are they going to design a new crew vehicle or use all the work already poured into Orion?
  • Anyone? Beuller?

  • Solid rocket propulsion is inappropriate for manned spaceflight.
    This message has been brought to you by: Basic Common Sense.

    What was wrong with the X-33? The concept had flaws. In 1996. So. . . we turn our backs and never try again for a fully, TRULY reusable system? Just so we can continue to funnel billions of dollars of pork to powerful senators from Louisiana and Utah? Wow. We do not deserve space. We just don't.

    • by tekrat ( 242117 )

      My understanding was that the X-33 couldn't be build as the composite fuel tanks never worked, and without that, the thing could not be built light-enough to actually fly with the available fuel. I'm sure these hurdles could have been overcome, but 'they' decided not to throw good money after bad, although 'they' were willing to fund a decade of useless wars. Go figure.

      And yes, this design looks like it's just about continued funding for certain contractors who have paid off the right senators.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        The composite tank did fail but they came up with a lighter aluminum tank that did work. They killed the program anyway. Really it is called RnD. Research and Development. Sometimes things work some times they do not but you always are learning.

      • There have been significant advances in composite materials since the 90s, it's fairly cutting edge stuff. One would think that it would be worth another try with these new materials - it should be comparatively cheap to test just the fuel tank to see if this were true.

    • The X-33 was not designed be an orbital vehicle, though perhaps it could have paved the way for orbital vehicles of a similar design. It was never designed to fly over 100km or above 50% orbital speed.
    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Solid rocket propulsion is inappropriate for manned spaceflight.

      Anything that gives you good dE for your dm is appropriate for any kind of spaceflight, as long as you can control it.

      The shuttle's SRBs had one catastrophic failure in 30 years. And that sort of failure could have happened to a liquid system. Heck, a liquid system could have cryo-borked its own o-rings without freak weather getting involved. And...(and this one's a slight stretch) was actually a combination failure. If the massive liquid tank hadn't been sitting right there to be blasted by the es

  • by director_mr ( 1144369 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:25PM (#37400102)
    Space X is developing the falcon heavy, ( The link []. ) Why not use that instead. It lifts 53 metric tons for only $80-125 million a pop. Sure, the payload is a lot less, but the cost is 1/10 of what Nasa is thinking about. And those are hard numbers, not NASA will go over-budget numbers. I suppose the one drawback is in scenarios where you want to send a vehicle up there all in one piece.
    • because congress gets to dictate who NASA has to build with, and they want their precious tax kickbacks.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      "And those are hard numbers, not NASA will go over-budget numbers."
      It hasn't flown yet so no those are not hard numbers. They may make those numbers but until it happens it is still just an estimate. A problem with all government projects is feature creep. Since no one really has to pay this group or that adds "Wouldn't it be nice ifs" all over the place. Sort of like software development.

    • Even the Falcon Heavy is unlikely to be capable of a Moon, NEA, or Mars mission. However the Falcon will very likely be used for ISS resupply and other in-orbit operations, a mission profile at which the Falcon is to likely excel. The only way the Falcon would be able to do a deep space mission would be to have in-orbit refueling in place. While not impossible it's impractical at this point. Building this themselves would be far too expensive and they would definitely need some subsidies. SpaceX needs a nic

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Because that can't do what this does.

  • I miss the old days. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by freaxeh ( 1962440 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:29PM (#37400138)

    If only the US Government had more balls and more incentive to launch a great big rocket into space, we might all be space cowboys by now.

    If only NASA had the budget of 5% of the US Military, I could take my space guitar to a much larger International Space Station and sing the blues all with my other space buddies.

    If only we all could see the amazing opportunities and forward thinking plans which a healthy space program can produce, I could retire on a farm on Mars.

    You know what is missing from this so-called modern world? Ego, If only the US had the biggest Ego to orbit the center of the galaxy, we would all be better off. Just having the opportunity to say to the world, hey, I've got a plan for the world, let me build a space station orbiting around every single planet in this galaxy and we can all see the wonderful beauty that is our Solar System, we can all bring back to earth ideas for peace and ideas for bigger and better scientific projects, and oh yeah, We're the U.S of Effin' Aye, and we have a Saturn X. 5 Times the size of Saturn V and a beautiful sight to see as it takes off, this is our mark on society, this is our Image for the future free for all to look up to, and we love doing it too. Because we're the USA!

    But no, instead, we've shut down it all and dug our heads in the sand, for fear of financial collapse.

    This isn't the america I remember.

    We are all cowards.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

      Oh, we're not exactly cowards. We just stroke our ego on manly war escapades. Keeping the world safe from (non aligned) tinpot despots by using the world's largest military industrial complex to stomp a bunch of backwards, third tier, fourth world countries into molten dust!

      Or not.

    • let me build a space station orbiting around every single planet in this galaxy

      Using our FTL drives?

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:32PM (#37400154)
    What is NASA going to do with those two flights and what are they going to do next? There is no credible plan at all. Fly to some asteroid, then maybe to mars. But in order to do what? Put a flag in the sand of Mars so that half a century later somebody can fly a space probe to the planet and make a picture to combat the conspiracy theories that the Mars flight was all fake?

    There is no vision in this other than giving even more money to the firms that provided overpriced space ships and rockets in the past. There is no research in this, other than whatever happens to be picked up along the way by some great coincidence, just as with Apollo that had a grand total on one scientist flying to the moon.

    If you want to do manned spaceflight, you need a vision or it doesn't work. Because manned spaceflight in and of itself is stupid. As stupid as plonking down huge stones after dragging them for kilometers through the dirt in order to build Stone Henge. As just as stupid as breaking out stones in a quarry, carrying them along the Nile and building pyramids. Or wasting your time to write a symphony, playing football, chess or go (my favorite).

    There is no credible economic reason. There is very little indication, that the scientific gains of manned spaceflight will be worth the monetary expenditure for centuries. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it, if that is what you decide to focus on. If you say, we think it's worth it, because human nature sometimes requires a higher goal that doesn't have a lot to do with the individuals of the society, but the society as a whole - and as such can truly be enjoyed by all because nobody has any tangible benefit - then this is a good enough reason.

    But unfortunately our societies have devolved to the point of regarding everything that doesn't have a tangible benefit to identifiable individuals as a waste of time - unless it is part of those practices that were grandfathered in from eras when people thought otherwise.
  • by thefuz ( 1076605 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @01:01PM (#37400492)
    What is being overlooked here, imo, is the factor that drove the Apollo program to such fantastic feats on its relatively short timescale. That type of commitment and effort is _never_ going to be undertaken without the threat of another country topping the US. Barring the type of wake-up-call moment like Sputnik or Gagarin, the necessary desire to get us to the aspirational next level will continue on this iterative path of fits and starts. The key factor that allowed for Mercury -> Gemini -> Apollo was the race to the moon. Right now we have these wishy-washy blurred objectives like wouldn't it be great to visit an asteroid or maybe we'll be walking on Mars in 20 years. F that. We really need a challenger. China. Like the title says, they need to get to Mars. Will them putting something real into orbit do the trick? Is that even attainable given their current launch capabilities (I think so). Until something like that happens, we're doomed to live in this bureaucratic netherworld of pork. The public (I'm guilty too) is too apathetic to realize the country could really use something inspiring like this. Otherwise all the wonderful brainpower out there will continue to funnel into the world of spooky finance transactions... who can blame them!!
  • This is a prime example of why NASA should be terminated. Spin off the space science/weather programs and kill the rest. $30B to re-use existing technology to get something in space 6 years from now? Are they that fucking hopeless?

    • We spend 8-10 billion dollars a month in Iraq alone. And you call 30 Billion over 10 years a "criminal waste of money" for a new launch vehicle? Did you stop to think about this for two seconds, because that is CHEAP, and the reason it is cheap is because they have that existing technology to build from.

      Then Pentagon has roughly 2 TRILLION dollars that they can't even account for, and you call 30 billion over 10 years (to build a new shuttle) criminal? Get some perspective...
  • I knew I shouldn't have skipped lunch. When I first saw the title I thought this was a "New Space Lunch System" for underprivileged aliens and astronauts.
  • I worked on a "Shuttle-Derived Cargo Launch Vehicle" in the Mid 1980's. It was an obvious answer to the low payload capacity of the orbiter. I see NASA has finally caught on to this idea after we proposed it to them about 5 times over the years in various studies.

    (Given the rate of management turnover, they would forget someone already did the study, and pay for it again and again)

    I look forward to when they catch up to studies we did in the 1990's (giant space guns, and ultra-tall towers)

  • Yes, it came from the same concept drawings, but we scratched out the name dangit! Aries was canceled so it is NOT the Aries 5!

  • by lazn ( 202878 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @01:31PM (#37400912)

    NASA is one of the FEW places where the $ spent MORE THAN PAYS OFF in actual $$s into our economy: []

    Every dollar spent on NASA actually GENERATES between $7 and $22 for our economy: []

    People who think spending $ on NASA is bad are the same kind of people that think treating an infected wound with HIV infected dog poop is good.

    • Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

      In relative terms NASA's budget is tiny, and any effective investment in new technology will always give a many fold return. Simply sticking a NASA badge on some crazy congressional pork isn't going to provide magical benefits.

  • Don't knock this approach. The Russian space program uses rockets that can trace their linage back to the R7 boosters that put the first man in orbit. Rather than scrap a working design the Russians have improved them constantly. The SSME is really not a totally new design, it's based on the Saturn V J1 engine. The upper stage of the SLS will use the J1X engine, which is based on the same engine. While the SRB's have a bad reputation thanks to the Challenger accident, they actually have a good safety r

  • A little more quietly, there are four companies now with NASA funded manned space-flight programs: SNC, Boeing, Blue Origin and SpaceX. []

    Once people start flying on any of these vehicles then it opens up more possibilities moving forward. This is the real space race.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"