Feeds

NASA inks deal for Shuttle replacements

Timing nothing to do with Endeavour dent

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.