NASA boldly goes for second-generation space transport

NASA boldly goes for second-generation space transport

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

MAY 18—NASA yesterday emphasized its 'faster, better, cheaper' mantra with $767 million worth of awards to 22 contractors for a second-generation reusable launch vehicle design.

The planned total budget for the Space Launch Initiative is $4.8 billion through 2006. Successful designs would replace aging space shuttles as well as carry over to future space and commercial transport.

The space agency's announcement said SLI, at one-tenth the cost of current launch systems, would make space vehicles at least 10 times safer and crew survivability 100 times better.

The Air Force Research Laboratory helped NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center evaluate the proposals for the first round of contracts, which are for a 10-month base period with one or more optional years. Contractors, including defense and aerospace companies as well as universities, will research such topics as data bus technologies, high-density energy storage systems and low-maintenance avionics hardware that does not need active cooling.

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