Tue, May 30, 2006
Will Use Modified Delta IV Boosters, J-2s Instead
Of Shuttle Engines
It all came down to money -- the reason NASA has decided to use
clusters of modified Delta IV rocket engines to propel the boosters
the agency is designing to rocket the upcoming Crew
Exploration Vehicle (CEV) into orbit -- and onto the moon --
instead of relying on less-expensive "throwaway" versions of the
space shuttle's main engines.
NASA told Florida Today the agency will save nearly half the $40
million cost per engine for the modified shuttle engine -- itself a
simpler version of the $80 million reusable engines currently
employed on NASA's three-orbiter fleet -- by using the Delta IV
"In the long run, the (Delta IV) will be much less expensive to
own and operate," said Marshall Space Flight Center deputy director
Dan Dumbacher. "Right away, we will be saving $100 million a flight
just on the cost of engines."
The decision to use the Delta IV will require modifications to
the Apollo-era, Saturn V-derived booster rocket NASA is relying on
to launch cargo and manned crews into orbit, and onto such
destinations as the moon and Mars.
For starters, the main booster used on the gigantic Cargo Launch
Vehicle (or CLV, which would be sent into orbit in advance of the
Crew Exploration Vehicle for a trip to the moon) will need to be
widened an additional 5 1/2 feet -- to an awe-inspiring 33 feet in
diameter -- in order to accommodate the five Delta IV engines,
referred to individually as RS-68s.
The upper stage for both the CLV and CEV boosters was also
originally intended to be powered by the shuttle-engine-derived
motor... but they will now be powered instead by an upgraded
version of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's J-2 booster.
The J-2 has seen extensive duty for NASA... it was originally
used on the Saturn V booster that sent Apollo astronauts to the
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