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APNewsBreak: NASA unveils giant NEW ROCKET design

September 14, 2011

APNewsBreak: NASA unveils giant new rocket design

Sep 14, 11:44 AM EDT

By SETH BORENSTEIN

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.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and several members of Congress joined Wednesday in unveiling the Obama administration’s much-delayed general plans for its rocket design, called the Space Launch System. The multibillion-dollar program will carry astronauts in a capsule on top and start test launching from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in six years.

“This is a great day for NASA, I think, for NASA and the nation,” Bolden said.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called it “a monster rocket.” He said the holdup in presenting the design was so all the details would be in order, before the program was presented and defended by the administration.

“Will it be tough times going forward? Of course it is,” Nelson told journalists. “We are in an era in which we have to do more with less – all across the board – and the competition for the available dollars will be fierce. But what we have here now are the realistic costs that have been scrubbed by an outside, independent third party.”

Nelson puts the cost of the program at about $18 billion over the next five years – or $3 billion a year. Some estimates, however, are closer to $35 billion.

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.

via Daily Record | Morris County NJ | AP Wire.

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