NASA's Space Launch Initiative blasts off
$4.8 billion SLI will 'significantly improve life on earth'
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. ®
There's more on the SLI from NASA here.