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Nasa unveils Space Launch System vision

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posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:26 PM
I looked for this thread today but didnt say anything. Some interesting news on NASA's next big thing.

Nasa unveils Space Launch System

The design for a huge rocket to take humans to asteroids and Mars has been unveiled by the US space agency Nasa. The Space Launch System (SLS), as it is currently known, will be the most powerful launcher ever built - more powerful even than the Saturn V rockets that put men on the Moon. On top of the SLS, Nasa plans to put its Orion astronaut capsule, which is already in development. The agency says the first launch should occur towards the end of 2017. This will be an uncrewed test flight, and it is estimated the project will have cost $18bn (£11.4bn) by that stage. "The next chapter of America's space exploration story is being written today," said Nasa's top official, General Charles Bolden. "President Obama has challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we do.

"While I was proud to fly in the space shuttle, tomorrow's explorers will dream of one day walking on Mars." The SLS will borrow many technologies developed for the recently retired space shuttle programme. These include the shuttle orbiter's main engines. But whereas the reusable spaceplane had three such power units on its aft, the SLS main core stage in its full-up configuration will have five. A further stage on top will provide additional muscle, as will shuttle-like strap-on boosters. Although, again, these will be bigger than those used on the shuttle. The initial design calls for the SLS to be able to put 70 tonnes in a low-Earth orbit (LEO), the altitude of the space station. Some 130 tonnes is the eventual target. By comparison, today's biggest commercial launch vehicles, such as the Ariane 5 or the Delta IV Heavy, can put just over 20 tonnes in LEO.

The immense lift capability is necessary to put all the equipment in orbit that is needed to undertake a deep-space mission. This would consist of not only the Orion capsule but perhaps a habitation module and a landing craft to go down to the surface of another planetary body. In the case of a Mars mission, several SLS launches would probably be needed. Wednesday's announcement is the culmination of months of study on the part of Nasa engineers, and sometimes fractious argument with the US Congress which felt the agency was not moving fast enough on the project it initiated in a piece of legislation called the Nasa Authorisation Act 2010. Since the retirement of the shuttle in July, America has no means of getting its own astronauts into orbit; it must rely on Russian Soyuz rockets to do that job. Nasa has invited the private sector to sell it transportation services to the space station, but these commercially operated rockets and capsules will not be ready for flight until the middle of the decade. And, in any case, none of them will have the power or the life-support systems capable of taking astronauts beyond LEO. In leaving routine LEO operations to the commercial sector, Nasa hopes it will have sufficient funds available to develop the SLS and Orion in time for the 2017 inaugural launch. There is no "roadmap" yet for where the SLS and Orion might take humans, and when. President Obama has talked only about getting astronauts to an asteroid in the 2025 timeframe, and to Mars at some unspecified future date. Other targets might include missions to geostationary orbit where telecommunications satellites sit, 36,000km (22,370 miles) above the Earth.

Im not sure what to think about this just yet. Everything seems good but the cost is huge.. Can we really get there and keep people alive in times like these with out cutting corners?

edit on 14-9-2011 by tEkAshr because: Adding outside info

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:28 PM
I know they have good intentions, but it seems that private industry could probably do it alot cheaper, and much faster. Only time will tell I guess

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:31 PM

Originally posted by longtermproject
I know they have good intentions, but it seems that private industry could probably do it alot cheaper, and much faster. Only time will tell I guess

I agree.. NASA's always seems to take longer and when the private sector all ready is working on these things.. they should at least work together to get it done sooner.. Should be pretty interesting if we are all still here in 6+ years and land a man or woman on the red planet.. Very interesting

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:32 PM
It's like revisiting the 1980's NASA articles all over again.
Snail pace advancements, a lot of hopeful outcomes, mentioning of the possibilities of usage... snore, zzzzz.

Until NASA starts acknowledging TR-3B type craft that I know exists, I can't take anything they say seriously at all.

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:34 PM
The black ops budget alone is more than 47 Billion dollars a year....47 BILLION...You think that by cutting somewhat a little in that area that the U.S couldn't afford something like this ?? Come on now !

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:34 PM
Old news.

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:39 PM
arrrr...I was hopping for something like that:

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 01:52 PM
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas), one of the rocket's staunchest supporters, said NASA, the White House and Congress finally ended up "on the same page." She said the design and timetable released Wednesday indicate a commitment that "we really are going forward now, all as one, with one goal."

Funny how this is something even politics don't intervene with. They understand the endless amounts of benefit space exploration for the future is and also the progression mankind makes. Not to mention we can employ plenty of news rocket scientist and physicist. (;

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 02:06 PM
The funniest part about it all is most of the congress were kids when the saturn rockets were flying, so thats why they think its such a great idea.... anyone born after that knows that it is going to require a space based ship (something that never comes into our atmosphere) to do any serious exploring. Think something like the ships in Wall E but in much smaller scale.... something on the order of 30 ish people that go out and explore asteroids, and send a couple down to visit the planets and whatnot. Launching individual rockets with just enough stuff for one mission is going to be costly and innefficient....

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 02:18 PM
OK, so tell us what private sector is going to be capable of launching 70 tons beyond LEO before 2017.

Not just names and dreams, real projected test supported facts. Then tell us where the profit is for the private sector to launch beyond LEO, what's the return of investment, because the only way the private sector is going to launch pure science missions is in a pipe dream, none can afford to launch that much cash into space for zero return of investment.

Ever time launch vehicles beyond LEO comes up the private sector chanting crowd sings but there simply is no song, unless they are subcontracting for a government funded space agency. Lets see them.

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 07:09 PM

Originally posted by AwakeinNM
Old news.

This was announced today (September 14).

It's a new system and NOT the Ares launch vehicles that were being designed for the now-mostly-defunct Constellation Program.

So this isn't old news -- although, granted, today was not the first we heard about it. It's simply the official "Unveiling".

posted on Sep, 14 2011 @ 07:39 PM

Originally posted by longtermproject
I know they have good intentions, but it seems that private industry could probably do it alot cheaper, and much faster. Only time will tell I guess

The private sector would only fund a rocket program if there is a profit to be turned (such as what they are doing now with the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services or COTS). The private sector is interested in COTS because NASA will pay them to deliver supplies and possibly astronauts to the space station. Therefore, COTS is a potentially profitable business venture for them.

What private company would go out on a limb and use their own money to build a rocket capable of taking people to the Moon and Mars? That would take a lot of money and several years before there would be any potential return. Private industry wouldn't do that.

Actually, and to be quite honest...

...It's deceiving to say that private industry wouldn't build the hardware for a hugely complicated far-reaching space program, because they already did so for the Apollo program. In fact, the private sector is almost always behind NASA's big pieces of space hardware -- but they do so as paid contractors, directly paid by NASA for all the flight hardware they design and build.

People don't seem to realize that the private sector designed and built the hardware used in the Apollo program -- they just didn't pay for it out of their own pockets, but rather they were subcontractors paid directly by NASA to design and build that hardware. NASA did not design and build any of the Apollo hardware. They only wrote the performance specifications. NASA paid the private contractors to design and build almost everything.

One example is the Lunar Rover. NASA just asked for a rover, and a bunch of companies came back with various proposals using a wide range of designs. It was General Motors (the car company) that came up with the design for the rover that was finally chosen to fly on Apollo. That GM-designed rover was built by Boeing. NASA had very little to do with it, except pay the bill.

Here is a list of the various major pieces of Apollo hardware built by the private sector, and the companies that built them:

Saturn V first stage -- Boeing
Saturn V second stage -- North American Aviation
Saturn V third stage -- Douglas Aircraft Company
Saturn V Telemetry computer -- IBM Corporation
Saturn V F-1 and J-2 Rocket Engines -- Rocketdyne Corporation
Command Module -- North American Aviation
Command Module AJ-10 Main Engine -- Aerojet Company
Lunar Module (LEM) -- Grumman Corporation
Command Module and Lunar Module Guidance Computers -- Raytheon
Guidance Computers Software -- MIT Instrumentation Lab
Lunar Rover -- General Motors and Boeing
Apollo Spacesuits -- International Latex Corporation (ILC)
Apollo Spacesuit Life Support (backpacks) -- Hamilton Standard
Saturn V Rocket Crawler-Transporter -- Marion Power Shovel Company and Rockwell Corporation

So, in reality the private sector actually did design and build the hardware for the Apollo program, and the private sector will be designing and building most of the specific hardware for the next NASA program that will take us to the Moon and Mars. They will just be working as a subcontractor to NASA when they do so. However, NASA will be the ones with the overall program vision and program needs.

The COTS program I mentioned above is a different animal, though. Rather than the private companies designing and building using NASA money, the y design and build the COTS rockets using their own money, then get paid by NASA later for each launch and supply delivery mission.

Originally posted by Illustronic
OK, so tell us what private sector is going to be capable of launching 70 tons beyond LEO before 2017...

...Ever time launch vehicles beyond LEO comes up the private sector chanting crowd sings but there simply is no song, unless they are subcontracting for a government funded space agency. Lets see them.

Illustrionic is exactly correct. The private sector will be involved (just like they always are with big NASA programs), but they will not be taking the lead on building a heavy lift vehicle. It would be too difficult to raise the private funds needed for such a large project. They however WILL be intimately involved in the final design and construction, but they will be doing so by using NASA's money and by following NASA's lead.

edit on 9/14/2011 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 15 2011 @ 06:49 AM
I think most people forget, that if NASA were to make it a pure competition, then the private sector would build whatever was wanted to get the contract to keep building these rockets... Think about it.... when you have competition, prices get better and better. The biggest concern for Nasa is the fact that there aren't many companies that they trust to make human flight capable hardware.

I think if Nasa went the way of ULA, whereas sub-contractors build all the pieces of the Atlas rockets, and keep a 100% documented inspection process, we could have a human space program again, with no worries that it will end up like the failed launches of Russias rockets.

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