originally posted by: buntalanlucu
it is strange that NASA let their rocket technology atrophied like this.. maybe it is time for other nations to take lead into space..
It isn't accurate to say it's "NASA's technology". NASA has rarely designed and built any launch system itself, but has almost always instead relied
on technology made by commercial companies/the private sector. Almost all of the major hardware NASA has ever used, including its rocket engines, were
built by commercial companies -- not by NASA itself.
Plus, NASA does not build the Atlas and Delta rockets used to launch satellites into space. Those rockets are designed and built by the United Launch
Alliance (ULA), which is a company that is jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The Atlas family of rockets (the Atlas III and the Atlas V), which are among the more popular rockets used today used in the U.S. to launch payload
into space, are the ones that use the Russian-built RD-180 engine. The Atlas rocket itself is manufactured by United launch Alliance (ULA), which, as
I said, is jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed. ULA has been testing a new engine that will replace the Russian-made ones, and the new engine should
be ready before ULA runs out of its inventory of Russian RD-180.
So basically the reliance on the Russian-made RD-180 to power the Atlas rockets was not NASA's doing, but rather the doing of the people who make the
Atlas rocket -- ULA, which is Boeing and Lockheed.
The Delta family of rockets (also made by ULA) are also popular for launches in the U.S., and they use engines made by Rocketdyne Corporation(liquid
propellant) and ULA(solid propellant).
As for NASA itself, even it has almost always relied on commercial corporations to make its engines. Most of NASA's liquid-propellant engines over
the years had been manufactured by Rocketdyne Corporation. Thiokol Corporation and ULA make the solid-propellant boosters used by NASA. Rocketdyne
has made the engines for the Apollo Saturn V and for the Space Shuttle main engines. Bell Aerospace and TRW made the engines for the Lunar Module,
and Aerojet Inc made the main engine for the Apollo command module.
NASA has historically used commercial companies to make its hardware. The three stages of the Saturn V were each designed and made by three separate
corporations -- Boeing, North American Aviation, and Douglas Aircraft -- and all three stages used engines made by Rocketdyne. The Command Module
was made by Douglas, the Lunar lander was made Grumman Aerospace, and the Lunar rover was made by General Motors and Boeing. Centaur rockets, which
have been used as the cruise stage for far-earth heavy missions such as the Mars Curiosity Rover, was originally designed made by General
Dynamics/Convair, but Boeing has since acquired that technology.
NASA's new family of rockets (the SLS family) will be mainly powered by liquid-propellant engines made by Rocketdyne and solid-propellant engines made
by Alliant Techsystems.. Other companies that are in competition to make some of the SLS engines are Aerojet and Dynetics.
So the new arrangement NASA has with private companies such as SpaceX and Orbital Services is not the first time NASA has used the private sector to
design and build its rockets. However, this new arrangement is unique in the fact that these new companies are providing an entire launch system and
launch services to NASA, rather than the old way where NASA was just buying the pieces of the spacecraft from the commercial companies/the private
edit on 8/25/2014 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)