Jupiter Direct update
Jupiter Directs latest itteration of a replacement for the shuttle will look something like the space shuttles external tank with 3 RS-25Cs under it ( the same engines that have reliable taken the space shuttle to orbit without fail, SSME – space shuttle main engines ), 2 current & unmodified 4 segment SRBs at the sides in the traditional configuration and a payload fairing or shroud covering the Crew Exploration Vehicle. This is the J-130 or Ares III. And if given a green light by the new NASA administrator could be ready to go far sooner, a whole 5 years sooner than the Ares I, and by saving billions of dolars by eliminating the need for expensive new engine development programs, or re-engineering RS-68s for man-rated flight, its can put the constellation program and the VSE back on schedule.
Heres the new chart provided by the DIRECT team
Notice the IOC ( initial operational capability ) of the Ares I vs the IOC of the J-130 ( Ares III ) is in 2017 by current NASA estimates, a full 7 years after they expect to retire the space shuttle – while the IOC for the J-130 is before the end of 2012, just 2 years post shuttle retirement. Even if the delays can be reduced and the original development scheduel for the Ares I is attained it’ll still be a 5 year gap between the retirement of the space shuttle and the launch of a new vehicle. Also notice how the Ares V isn’t even on the Map – it couldnt even be compared. Its replaced by the J-246, or Ares IV with an IOC of 2016 and FOC or Full operational capability before the end of 2017. Thats right – we can be on the moon before the Ares I is even ready to ship cargo and crew to low earth orbit if we went with the Jupiter Direct proposal. And it would save thousands of jobs across 3 states by almost eliminating the shuttle-gap and going with a real shuttle derived launch vehicle that fully utilizes known practices, skill sets, infrastructure and hardware.
Are the words – no contest – useful here?