Sunday, July 5, 2009

Alternative moon rockets to over-budget Constellation gaining traction




As we mentioned in recent days, the official buzzdom is decidedly down on Constellation, showing... something...

Robert Block
Orlando Sentinel Space Editor

July 5 - Once dismissed as the work of cranks or "shuttle-hugging" engineers, alternative designs for rockets to take astronauts to the moon are being seriously considered as possible replacements for NASA's over-budget Constellation program.

In recent weeks, the 10 members of the U.S. Human Spaceflight Review Committee appointed by the White House to re-examine NASA's manned space plans have heard from a range of companies and individuals about their ideas to get astronauts into orbit quickly and affordably after the space shuttle is retired next year.

They have deemed some of these projects worthy of further study, including ideas written off by NASA engineers a few years ago as being underpowered, unsafe and unimaginative. One of them is being promoted by the head of NASA's shuttle program. Another is the product of a group of freelance engineers — some of them NASA employees working on their own time — and rocket hobbyists calling themselves the Direct team.

Last week, the committee said it wants Aerospace Corp., an independent-research group, to analyze Direct's Jupiter rocket, which would use the shuttle's giant external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters to launch a capsule instead of an orbiter.

"This should show our detractors that we can't be dismissed as a bunch of people in tinfoil hats," said Stephen Metschan, who leads Direct.

Read the Article HERE.

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