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For Release: March 8, 2000
NASA Seeks Ideas for Future Space Transportation Plan
NASA is beginning a new journey toward the launchpad with a second-generation reusable launch vehicle (RLV) system that will be safer and cheaper than todays technology, and will rely more heavily on the commercial space business to meet NASAs science and exploration goals.
The agency Tuesday published a NASA Research Announcement entitled "Second Generation RLV Risk Reduction Definition Program." It calls for industry proposals as a first step in defining detailed requirements, and identifying and commencing initial risk reduction options, to enable a second-generation Reusable Launch Vehicle competition in 2005, leading to an operational system around 2010.
The studies will serve as a springboard for the five-year, $4.5 billion effort to reduce the risk associated with building and operating next-generation launch systems before entering the full-scale development phase in 2005.
"In the last several years, NASA has initiated several technology demonstration programs," said Dr. Row Rogacki, director of the Space Transportation Directorate at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "Weve invested in specific concepts. Weve partnered heavily with industry on aggressive technology programs. Weve made great progress and gained much insight into promising emerging technologies. We better understand the balance between commercial and government interests.
"However, NASA has encountered difficult lessons and delays in key technology projects," Rogacki said. "Weve learned that more development along multiple competing paths is needed. Weve learned that commercial markets are not growing as previously projected.
"But there are still possibilities to make access to space more robust," he said. "This effort is part of the Administrations Space Launch Initiative intended to target these challenges."
NASAs strategy has three main goals:
The studies will address an architecture that covers not only possible Earth-to-orbit launch vehicles, but also in-space orbit transfer vehicles, ground and flight operations and the technology and organization required to support both.
NASA and its industry partners will take advantage of space transportation programs such as the X-33, X-34, X-37 and Advanced Space Transportation Program to reduce technical risk and create increased competition during the five-year risk reduction phase.
The risk reduction program will be a NASA-wide effort and also will involve the U.S. Department of Defense.
A briefing for potential bidders will be held Friday, March 10 at 9 a.m. CST at the Marshall Center in Building 4200, in Morris Auditorium. Industry proposals in various technical areas are due by June 1. NASA anticipates multiple awards this year resulting from the NASA Research Announcement.
The risk reduction program is a result of NASAs industry-led Space Transportation Architecture Studies in 1998 and 1999, and the agencys Integrated Space Transportation Plan developed in the fall of 1999. In addition to a second-generation reusable launch vehicle, that plan addressed safety upgrades for the Space Shuttle, a crew return vehicle for the Space Station and basic technology research. Those elements are covered in other program plans.
The Marshall Center is NASAs Lead Center for Space Transportation Systems Development.
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