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NASA's Space Launch Initiative blasts off

$4.8 billion SLI will 'significantly improve life on earth'

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NASA has awarded contracts for the development of a new generation of reusable space vehicles.

The Space Launch Initiative (SLI) - which is aimed at improving safety and drastically reducing the cost of space operations - offers the possibility of a full-scale vehicle within five years.

The initial contracts - totalling $767 million - were awarded to 22 companies. They are intended for development of alternative technologies which will lead on to development of a 'next-generation' vehicle.

According to NASA these "leap-ahead technologies include crew survival systems, advanced tanks and airframe structures, long-life rocket engines and thermal protection systems."

Art Stephenson, director of NASA's Marshall Flight Center, enthuses: "A second-generation reusable launch vehicle will open up the space frontier and significantly improve life on Earth."

US taxpayers may well expect a significant improvement to life on earth - the total projected budget to 2006 for the SLI is $4.8 billion. ®

Related links

There's more on the SLI from NASA here.

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