NASA Studying Heavy Lift Rockets

Bolden Directs MSFC Special Team to evaluate HLV alternatives

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden has asked for a “Special Team” at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to evaluate the Heavy Lift alternatives – including DIRECT’s Jupiter launch vehicle – as a “top priority”. The team has been asked to create a report on their findings in time for Thanksgiving, in an apparent reaction to the final Augustine Commission report – which will be published on Thursday.

The Space Shuttle Program (SSP) is coming to the end of an evaluation phase on the “currently favored” Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) – otherwise known as the Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (SD HLLV), as they move into a consultation period with the Constellation Program (CxP).

The vehicle, side mounted to the current design of the External Tank, is a true Shuttle Derived concept, with heritage from a previous concept known as Shuttle-C. The concept is capable of launching 80mt (metric tons) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and around 54mt to the moon.

Over the past couple of months, numerous status reports have been posted on the Shuttle Standup/Integration reports – which SSP use to bring the teams up to date on vehicle and program status. The vast majority of updates have been positive, as the well-oiled Shuttle teams took a deeper look into the concept at the request of the Augustine Commission.

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