Firing the Space Shuttle: Top 9 replacements (gallery)

Firing the Space Shuttle: Top 9 replacements (gallery)

Summary: The Space Shuttle might be history but there's a line forming to take its place and enter the new space race.

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TOPICS: Nasa / Space
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  • Boeing's CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) is a large capsule capable of supporting up to 7-man crews and is designed to remain in orbit for up to 7 months at a time, and can be re-useable for up to 10 missions.

     
    The capsule is currently under preliminary development and has had mock-ups undergo parachute drop testing in the Nevada desert in April of 2012.
     
    NASA has leased space at the Orbiter Processing Facility in Kennedy Space Center for further manufacturing and tests of the CST-100.
     
    The CST-100 was designed to be compatible with several launch systems, including Atlas V, Delta 4, and SpaceX's Falcon 9.
  • MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) is an outgrowth of the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) of President George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration initiative that was announced in January of 2004. Various design changes have resulted in a capsule that can carry up to four astronauts, and is similar in outward appearance to the Apollo capsule from the 1960s.

     
    The Orion was originally designed to sit atop the Ares V booster system, which has since been cancelled by the Obama administration.  Lockheed plans to do an initial unmanned flight test of the Orion using a Delta IV Heavy booster in 2014.
  • SpaceDev's Dream Chaser is an attempt to return to the X-34 lifting body designs originally proposed for the Air Force. Like the Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser is a re-useable spacecraft which can accomodate a crew of seven astronauts and cargo for resupply of the ISS. It is designed to launch atop a Atlas V booster rocket and on its return trip earth, perform a glide (unpowered) landing on a conventional runway exactly like the Space Shuttle.

     
    NASA has awarded $80M to the continued development of Dream Chaser. Sierra Nevada has had successful test firings of the Dream Chaser's hybrid rocket motor and has completed tooling for building the composite structure of the vehicle, as well as assembly of the primary structure of its initial test flight airframe.
     
    No test flights have been planned as of yet.

Topic: Nasa / Space

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Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Dream Chaser

    It doesn't have to carry extra fuel to land, like Bezos' entry, and it won't require a parachute water landing which will give it the ability to land anywhere, or where it took off from. The Atlas V which will carry it into orbit uses the highly reliable and efficient RD-180 first stage engine and the RL-10 to power the upper stage.
    GreyGeek77
    • Dream Chaser

      I looked at every replacment and kept saying it dosent fly. Except for Dreamchaser. From there we go to turbojet /scramjet/rocket power flight to orbit, from a runway. It dosent fall out of the sky when you lose an engine.
      Rpokeytruck@...
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      baozheni2
  • Correction about Super Draco

    Super Draco is the name of a small engine that will be added to future versions of Dragon that will be used for powered landings.
    rspeed
  • The worst part is...

    Rpokeytruck@... I understand your comment about flying applies to aerodynamic flight. What's more concerning is the number of years post-Shuttle retirement before there is anything working except Soyuz. Heck, the Chinese may have something ready before we do!
    Biotechguy
  • Rockets - 700 year old tech at its best

    Are humans so historically constrained that we can't fund and develop a more advanced NEO launch system that doesn't use 700 year old technology? "Light the fuse and run like hell" still holds with these megalithic nozzle bombs on steroids. Come on! Let's get some funding for tech other than rockets. StarTram, maglev, even the Navy has a ballistic system now that could be extended to deliver payloads into NEO. Take a looks a this: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0301/Navy-railgun-fires-40-lb.-bullets-at-Mach-7-video and that is primitive as hell. The age of the rocketeer is at an end. Time for the next gen space launch system.
    anonymole@...
    • 700?

      Well, hell, let's stop using wheels, too, then. They make rockets look positively fresh. And how well do those systems scale, and how well do they work with *humans?*
      egmccann
    • The trick to many of these:

      Lots of alternate launch systems have the problem that launching people is iffy; I recall a discussion of a "railgun" launcher that would launch inanimate cargo just fine (if it wasn't fragile) but packed too many Gs for humans or fragile cargo to survive.

      To work for humans, you need to reach escape velocity over enough time that you limit the acceleration to just a few Gs. This has traditionally meant engines and fuel carried onboard, hence the "nozzle bomb" approach. Here's a two-year-old link on the subject:
      http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/Cool-Astronomy/2010/0914/NASA-considering-rail-gun-launch-system
      jgeorge12001@...
  • Ares I not Ares V

    Orion was to go up on an Ares I not an Ares V. The allowed Orion to be used even when a huge cargo was not. Any Orion missions needing more mass would launch on an Ares I and the Orion would dock with the equipment launched on the Ares V. This would mean the Ares V would be able to haul more to orbit since it didn't have the Orion.

    Congress destroyed all the savings when it mandated the Space Launch System (also known as the Senate Launch System pork feast) and slowed our ability to develop human launch vehicles.
    Kansan52
  • There is a reason why we call it 'Rocket Science'

    and we don't call it 'Rocket Science' because all the easy-sounding terms are used up. This is tough stuff to do; spend some time reading about "combustion instability" in the F1 (50+ years ago) to get an idea just how complex. Few organizations other than NASA and the Russian equivalent have really mastered it. The Chinese copied the Russians, and no one else is close to man-rated vehicles.
    So far all the private organizations that have tried to do space flight have had very spotty records, at least partially because they are trying to do things quickly and on the cheap.
    Notably missing from the list here is (of course) the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. I came across an online discussion with people wondered why the SS1 design could not be "tweaked' to be an orbital vehicle. The simple reason is... SS1 made it to all of 15% of escape velocity. Yes, just FIFTEEN PERCENT. It would be like trying to "tweak" a moped to compete in the Indy 500.
    I expect any of these groups that actually get a vehicle off the ground to do exactly what SpaceX has done repeatedly - put it in-the-drink.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for commercial, manned spaceflight.
    skranish
  • ...

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    WayneC369