Feeds

NASA inks deal for Shuttle replacements

Timing nothing to do with Endeavour dent

Remote control for virtualized desktops

NASA has signed a $1.8 billion contract with Utah-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for "design, development, testing, and evaluation of the first stage of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles." Ares I and V will replace the Space Shuttle fleet as NASA's primary means of getting people and stuff into earth orbit.

The deal, announced on Friday, includes delivery of five ground static test motors, two ground vibration test articles and four flight test stages. NASA doesn't get any boosters to use under this deal: the operational rockets will be subject to a seperate contract.

ATK was seen by NASA as the only company which could develop of the first stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle. Ares I will use solid-fuel rockets to launch humans into orbit, and the current space shuttle strap-on booster is the only solid rocket made in America rated for firing people rather than just kit.

The first stage of the Ares I astronaut-carrying launcher will be a five-segment solid rocket booster based on the four-segment design used for the shuttle. The second stage will be a J-2X liquid-oxygen, liquid-hydrogen engine with a new upper stage fuel tank. The Orion crew exploration vehicle will ride to low Earth orbit with as many as six astronauts atop this stack.

The planned Ares V bulk lifter will deliver machinery and spaceships into orbit, including the vessels which will take people back to the Moon and on to Mars under current plans. Ares V's mighty first stage will mount five RS-68 liquid-oxygen, liquid-hydrogen engines mounted below a larger version of the shuttle's external tank, with two five-segment, solid-propellant rocket boosters strapped on for extra poke. The upper stage will use the same J-2X engine as the Ares I.

NASA says a return to throwaway rocket stacks will be more reliable, affordable and flexible than the Shuttles, whose orbiter spaceplane segment is re-usable but expensive to maintain and often plagued by technical and safety problems. Others have characterised the move as a retrograde step for launch technology, saying that NASA should move forward with some blue-sky, truly reusable scheme such as rocket/scramjet spaceplanes.®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.