Friday, November 13, 2009

Heir to the Saturn 5

NASA weighs Ares alternatives, including an heir to the Saturn V

However, the rocket received high marks from NASA engineers over the shuttle derived systems in the following areas:

1) Ground Operations Safety: It eliminates the danger of stacking the Solid Rocket Boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. Currently nobody can be in the building during stacking. It also opens up the VAB to other uses because you can have offices in the building again.

2) Costs: It eliminates at least $1 billion a year in solid costs and tens of millions more in recurring costs of shuttle-derived systems.It also takes fewer people to operate.

3) Maintenance: Boosters are heavy and thus inflict a lot of wear and tear on KSC facilities, including the Crawler-Transporter that carries the rocket on its mobile launchpad, and the 130-ft wide Crawlerway track that leads from the VAB to the pad. As this rocket would be stacked empty and fueled on the pad it would be much lighter than a rocket using SRBs.

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