Thursday, January 1, 2009

Obama Team told EELVs can save NASA

Robert Block - The Write Stuff - Orlando Sentinel

CAPE CANAVERAL - For more than three years, NASA chief Mike Griffin has maintained that the safest, most reliable and affordable way to return astronauts to the moon is on the Ares I, a rocket that he helped design from parts of the space shuttle. Alternatives, he insisted, such as modified military rockets, were simply not capable of carrying humans to the moon and beyond.
But interviews, as well as documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, indicate that military rockets can lift astronauts safely into space - and to the moon - for billions less and possibly sooner than NASA's current designs.

While it's not clear how the next administration wants to proceed with NASA's lunar ambitions, one aerospace-industry official confirmed that NASA recently asked Kennedy Space Center to start examining the impacts of scrapping NASA's own Ares I rocket design and switching to modifiedversions of the military's Atlas V and Delta IV rockets as the agency's next-generation human spaceships.

Already, Atlas V and Delta IV - also known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, or EELVs - successfully blast NASA probes to Mars and beyond and put top secret multi-billion-dollar military spy satellites into clandestine orbits from launch pads in Florida and California. There have been a total of 21 EELV flights since the first Atlas V and Delta IV launches occurred in 2002.

Read more HERE.

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