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June 24, 2009 -- NASA has a backup plan to launch crew and cargo to the moon, reduce the gap between shuttle retirement and a replacement ship's debut, and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
They call it the side-mount shuttle. It's basically the space shuttle system without the winged orbiters.
Preliminary NASA studies show that using the existing shuttle's solid rocket boosters, fuel tank and main engines as a launch system, with some minor modifications, could be the foundation of an alternative launch system to the planned Ares rocket program currently under development.