Earlier this year, after 30 years of service, were sent to the retired space shuttles. Their successor looks very familiar.
Creating a missile, called Space Launch System, will cost $ 35 billion. According to a source from the Obama administration, it will be a rocket with liquid fuel, is more like Apollo than the shuttles.
The first destination will be the asteroid, then Mars will follow. The first test trials will be held at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in six years. "This is a great day for NASA, and for all of our nation as a whole," - said the manager of NASA.
Sen. Bill Nelson called it a "monster of missiles." According to him, the hitch with the unveiling of the items were related to the need careful inspection and prepare a defense to the commission. "Do you expect difficulties ahead? Certainly yes," - he said.
Nelson estimates the cost of implementation of this program in the life of a $ 18 billion over the next five years. According to other estimates, however, this figure is closer to 35 billion.
In size, shape, and rejection of the solid booster rockets in favor of starting engines with fuel oil, the missile is much more like Apollo, not space shuttles, which were the cruise ships repeated use, in which the lion’s share of thrust created by the two solid-fuel boosters.
NASA plans to launch one rocket a year for about 15 years in the 2020’s and 2030’s, as reported from anonymous sources in the presidential administration, as the official announcement has not yet been reported.
The first unmanned flight is scheduled for 2017, and the first team will fly in 2021. Already in 2025 is planned to send astronauts to an asteroid. After that, NASA hopes to send the rocket with astronauts to Mars - at first just to fly around it, and only later, in the 2030’s, the expected landing of man on this planet.
This missile will be able to carry into space 77 to 110 tons of cargo, including six people in the capsule Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.
Later, capacity will be increased to 143 tons, and possibly up to 165 tons. For comparison, the carrier rocket Saturn V, brought the man on the moon, had a capacity of 130 tons, and the space shuttles - a total of 27 tons.
Unlike shuttles which can be reused, it will rocket disposable so it will be necessary to create a new missile for every new startup.
Already expressed fears that the real costs will be higher than expected, as is well known, the space shuttles have cost twice as much as planned. This can lead to the depletion of the budget of other NASA missions.