posted on May, 28 2006 @ 01:24 PM
The Space Transport System or Shuttle is being replaced with a whole range of new vheicles. Rather than the one size fits all approach taken by the
STS, the new architecture taylors each vehicle to a specific task.
There are to be two new launch vehicles, the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) for launching crew on and the much heavier Cargo Launch Vehcile (CaLV) for
launching heavy payloads.
There is a new spaceship for taking people to and from orbit called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and a new lander to go from low Luna orbit and
back called the Luna Surface Access Module (LSAM)
Currently the STS can take seven people and around 25 tonnes of cargo to orbit and seven people and 15 tonnes back. However each launch costs around
$1B or more if you inclused all the servicing costs and the STS can't go higher that about 400km with a useful poayload.
The CLV is predicted to have a payload of around 25 tonnes to low Earth orbit, roughly the same as the STS but there are currently no plans to launch
anything on it apart from the CEV. The CEV can take 6 people and a few tonnes of cargo to and from the ISS.
The CaLV has recently changed and it is predicted to have a payload to orbit of between 125 to 175 tonnes and is nomialy tasked to launch the LSAM and
an Earth departure stage which will take the LSAM and CEV to the Moon.
There is also $500M in the new budget for private companies to develop their own ISS access vehicles.
The new system, sometimes refered to as Constellation will be able to supply the ISS as the STS does, will act as a life boat on the ISS allowing a
crew of six, the STS can't do this. It will also be able to deliver crews and cargo to the Moon something the STS can't do. It is also very well
suited to further development for near Earth asteroid missions and Mars missions, again something the STS can't do.
The only thing the new system can't do is bring back very large items from space, something the STS was tasked to do but it turned out not to be
worth the cost.
Here is a picture of the CaLV and the CLV that is mostly up to date.
CaVL and CEV
And a picutes of the CEV and LSAM
CEV and LSAM