Future of NASA: Deep Space (Commercial HLV)

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The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee has drawn up several alternate architectures for NASA to pursue its mission of sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). For a more complete summary, see “Future of NASA: Program of Record“. The sixth architecture in the list is focused on exploration missions to deep space, assuming an increased budget of $3 billion per year. The committee presented two budget charts, this timeline represents the more conservative projection.

The first commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station (ISS) begin.
In March, the Space Shuttle is retired after delivering all the currently planned components to ISS. Soyuz space capsules, provided by international partners, provide crew transportation to ISS for the next five years. Thousands of NASA employees are laid off over the next 3–5 years, and Kennedy Space Center is all but dismantled.
In June, a commercial crew transportation service to ISS becomes operational. Utilization of ISS for R&D increases.
ISS is retired in January. The budget provides funding for a propulsion module which will bring ISS to a controlled re-entry. Some of it will burn up in the atmosphere, the rest will be disposed of in the ocean.
Orion and a commercially-provided heavy-lift vehicle become operational. Crews are shuttled to orbit on commercial rockets.
Orion/Earth departure stage (EDS) expedition to a Lagrange point in free space.
Orion/EDS expedition to rendezvous with a near-Earth object (NEO). Astronauts explore the asteroid’s surface and extract samples before returning to Earth.
Orion/EDS expedition to fly by Mars. No descent to the surface or rendezvous with a Martian moon is attempted.
Humans land on the Moon using a commercially developed lander and return to Earth.


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One Response to “Future of NASA: Deep Space (Commercial HLV)”

  1. RLV and Space Transport News Says:

    Administration leaning towards commercial options…

    It appears that the administration will move NASA towards a reliance on commercial operators for as much of the human spaceflight program as possible:…

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