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What is the latest update on NASA's Transportation Architecture? (DIRECT launch vehicle design)

Status Report From: NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2008

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July 3, 2008

NASA has spent substantial effort over several years to consider many launch concepts, and the agency continues to develop the Constellation architecture, which includes the Ares I crew launch vehicle, the Ares V heavy lift vehicle and the Orion crew exploration vehicle. NASA chose these systems based upon significant analysis, and the agency believes it has the best program in place to meet our nation's future exploration needs.

Since the completion of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study in 2005, NASA has continued to mature its exploration launch system approach in conjunction with ongoing Constellation program studies. Since early 2005, the agency has conducted over 1700 launch concept analyses. The agency has evolved and refined its Lunar Mission requirements to accomplish the goals of the Global Exploration Strategy and U.S. Space Exploration Policy. The Ares I launch vehicle is heading for preliminary design review this fall. The entire transportation architecture for going to the moon and back, including the Ares V rocket, recently completed its mission concept review.

Over the last two years, NASA has performed feasibility assessments of the different DIRECT launch vehicle designs that have emerged. These feasibility assessments are summarized in the attached white paper. The charts below detail the assessments of the DIRECT 2.0 concept (April - May 2007) and the updated DIRECT 2.0 (September 2007) and provide the background for the white paper.

Download the white paper: NASA Background on Ares Vehicles versus the DIRECT Proposal

Download the PDF: NASA Performance Assessment of Direct 2.0

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