NASA has sent its latest interim report on heavy-lift capability
to the U.S. Congress, telling the body that it would be impossible
to build within the current time and budget constraints imposed on
the agency. It said the same was true of any crew vehicle the
rocket would carry.
NASA Image From Cooke Report
The study was mandated by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010,
which became law last October.
NASA Associate Administrator for explorations systems Doug Cooke
outlined the agency's basic heavy-lift concept to the NASA Advisory
Council Tuesday. The launch vehicle uses shuttle engines and fuel
tanks, along with larger versions of the SRBs which currently boost
the shuttle into orbit. Space News reports that Cooke told the
panel that the design would use "existing Shuttle main engine and
booster component assets in the near term," but that the main
engine technology could be upgraded when the inventory of existing
engines and fuel tanks was exhausted. He said that would allow
contracts already in place to be fulfilled without costly
NASA's Doug Cooke Image Credit Bill Ingalls
But, he said "to be clear, neither Reference Vehicle Design
currently fits the projected budget profiles or schedule goals
outlined in the Authorization Act."
The Authorization Act gives the agency another five years to
field heavy lift and crew vehicles with a three-year budget of $10