September 21, 2020

NASA unveils giant new rocket design

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The design for NASA’s newest behemoth of a rocket harkens back to the giant workhorse liquid rockets that propelled men to the moon. But this time the destinations will be much farther and the rocket even more powerful.

The Obama administration yesterday unveiled its much-delayed general plans for its rocket design, called the Space Launch System, which will cost about $35 billion, according to senior administration sources and information obtained by The Associated Press. It will carry astronauts in a capsule on top and start test launching in six years.

The size, shape and heavier reliance on liquid fuel as opposed to solid rocket boosters is much closer to Apollo than the recently retired space shuttles, which were winged, reusable ships that sat on top of a giant liquid fuel tank, with twin solid rocket boosters providing most of the power. It’s also a shift in emphasis from the moon-based, solid-rocket-oriented plans proposed by the George W. Bush administration.

“It’s back to the future with a reliable liquid technology,” said Stanford University professor Scott Hubbard, a former NASA senior manager who was on the board that investigated the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident.

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