Headlines > News > NASA Announces Design for New Deep Space Exploration System

NASA Announces Design for New Deep Space Exploration System

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:26 pm via: NASA
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NASA is ready to move forward with the development of the Space Launch System — an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide an entirely new national capability for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. The Space Launch System will give the nation a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space. The Space Launch System, or SLS, will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.

“This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the world,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “President Obama challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that’s exactly what we are doing at NASA. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle, kids today can now dream of one day walking on Mars.”

Artist concept of SLS on launchpad. (NASA)

Artist concept of SLS on launchpad. (NASA)

The SLS rocket will incorporate technological investments from the Space Shuttle program and the Constellation program in order to take advantage of proven hardware and cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technology that will significantly reduce development and operations costs. It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include the RS-25D/E from the Space Shuttle program for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage. SLS will also use solid rocket boosters for the initial development flights, while follow-on boosters will be competed based on performance requirements and affordability considerations. The SLS will have an initial lift capacity of 70 metric tons (mT) and will be evolvable to 130 mT. The first developmental flight, or mission, is targeted for the end of 2017.

Artist concept of SLS launching. (NASA)

Artist concept of SLS launching. (NASA)

This specific architecture was selected, largely because it utilizes an evolvable development approach, which allows NASA to address high-cost development activities early on in the program and take advantage of higher buying power before inflation erodes the available funding of a fixed budget. This architecture also enables NASA to leverage existing capabilities and lower development costs by using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for both the core and upper stages. Additionally, this architecture provides a modular launch vehicle that can be configured for specific mission needs using a variation of common elements. NASA may not need to lift 130 mT for each mission and the flexibility of this modular architecture allows the agency to use different core stage, upper stage, and first-stage booster combinations to achieve the most efficient launch vehicle for the desired mission.

Artist concept of future destinations. (NASA)

Artist concept of future destinations. (NASA)

“NASA has been making steady progress toward realizing the president’s goal of deep space exploration, while doing so in a more affordable way,” NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. “We have been driving down the costs on the Space Launch System and Orion contracts by adopting new ways of doing business and project hundreds of millions of dollars of savings each year.”

The Space Launch System will be NASA’s first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago. With its superior lift capability, the SLS will expand our reach in the solar system and allow us to explore cis-lunar space, near-Earth asteroids, Mars and its moons and beyond. We will learn more about how the solar system formed, where Earth’ water and organics originated and how life might be sustained in places far from our Earth’s atmosphere and expand the boundaries of human exploration. These discoveries will change the way we understand ourselves, our planet, and its place in the universe.

4 Comments
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the "new" (and very very expensive) NASA rocket called SLS is pretty close MY concept of a FAST-SLV (proposed OVER 5.5 YEARS AGO in the article linked below and on several space forums and blogs) and NOT a derivation of the Ares-5 or the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR MONTHS LATER and bad designed) "Direct" launcher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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http://www.gaetanomarano.it/articles/005_SLVnow.html
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also, the initial lift off capacity of the SLS (70 tons) is pretty close to what I've predicted in my article, with three SSMEs and (please note) the 4-segments SRBs, in the basic design shown in the video!!!
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http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/sls1.html
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and also the evolutions of the SLS to a 130 tons payload at lift off was already suggested in my article!!!
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self quote: "Then, with some changes, the SAME hardware can lift up to 110-tons in LEO for ISS and LUNAR missions! 125+ tons-payload models can be easy made adding one or two SSME in the basket of the main engines."
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so, my blog clearly has been the real NASA "rocket design office" ... just 5.5 years later ... and, personally, I think that ALL the PRESS should say that (if the Press still write the TRUTH, of course)
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also the time to launch the first FAST-SLV was predicted with great accuracy: around 2012 (in my 2006's article) + over 5 years lost to (finally) copy my design = about 2017 for the first launch!!!
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however, the FAST-SLV (now called SLS) is a TOO OLD design today (and will NEVER fly due to its TOO high costs) so, NASA should select a better rocket and a better mission architecture
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this design also signs the TOTAL FAILURE of the Direct Launcher LOBBY that has written and posted everywhere LOTS of insults against NASA (and me too...) for NOTHING!!!
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so, now, I suggest they'll close their useless website and that Wikipedia may finally DELETED the "Direct Laucher" page!!!
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the Wikipedia rules say that can't be opened pages about fake, unofficial and unexisting things, that's why, still, I don't understand WHY the Wikipedia editors and moderators have allowed to publish and keep online for OVER FIVE YEARS a page about a NON-NASA and TOTALLY INVENTED rocket project, like the Photoshop-made "Direct Launcher" concept, proposed by a, STILL UNKNOWN, bunch of "aerospace engineers"
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT
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but, now, that also the official NASA Constellation program and its Ares-1 and Ares-5 rockets have been DELETED FOREVER last year by President Obama, I believe that it's time that Wikipedia DELETE NOW all the pages, in all languages, of the NON-NASA, fake, unofficial and unexisting rocket project called "Direct" (that is NO LONGER proposed NOT EVEN in the Direct Launcher website, since DEAD before born!!!) and also delete ALL LINKS that point to the Direct wiki page and the Direct website!
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if this is not done soon, we, users, may have the doubt that Wikipedia publishes (also) some "sponsorized" (read "advertising") pages ...
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It. Just. Won't. Die.
"It" = the ugly step child of Saturn 5 and STS ;)
uhm, I missed a question mark there...
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