NASASpaceflight.com takes a look at the various heavy-lift options being considered by the White House in wake of the Augustine Committee’s report:
2010 will mark a number of key decisions for NASA, not least the potential switch from the current Ares I/V architecture to an alternative mix of commerical crew launch â€“ accompanied by a new heavy lift workhorse. A decision is expected to be announced early in the new year by President Obama, although at least three heavy lift vehicles â€“ including a huge 200mt vehicle â€“ were still being classed as options ahead of the Christmas break….
An extension of the shuttle program â€“ as stated by the Augustine Commission â€“ would only be viable if the follow-on vehicle is a true Shuttle Derived (SD) LV. Two examples were presented to the Augustine Commission, one which is based on a side-mount option â€“ called the SD HLLV (Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle) â€“ and another called the Jupiter LV.
However, another Heavy Lift vehicle came out of the blue in December, via an internal 65 page presentation on NASAâ€™s overview (available on L2) of what it believes can be accomplished via the Flexible Path options, per Augustine Commission.
While the presentation is far-reaching on various mission outlines â€“ including missions to Near Earth Objects (NEOs), GEO Space Telescopes, and manned missions to Mars (all of which will be reported in an upcoming article) â€“ a monster 200 metric ton human rated â€œExploration Classâ€ launch vehicle is referenced several times.
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