NASA News: NASA Announces Design For New Deep Space Exploration System

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected the design of a new Space Launch
System that will take the agency's astronauts farther into space than
ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home, and provide the
cornerstone for America's future human space exploration efforts.

This new heavy-lift rocket-in combination with a crew capsule already
under development, increased support for the commercialization of
astronaut travel to low Earth orbit, an extension of activities on
the International Space Station until at least 2020, and a fresh
focus on new technologies-is key to implementing the plan laid out by
President Obama and Congress in the bipartisan 2010 NASA
Authorization Act, which the president signed last year. The booster
will be America's most powerful since the Saturn V rocket that
carried Apollo astronauts to the moon and will launch humans to
places no one has gone before.

"This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure
continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the
world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "President Obama
challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we
are doing at NASA. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle,
tomorrow's explorers will now dream of one day walking on Mars."

This launch vehicle decision is the culmination of a months-long,
comprehensive review of potential designs to ensure the nation gets a
rocket that is not only powerful but also evolvable so it can be
adapted to different missions as opportunities arise and new
technologies are developed.

"Having settled on a new and powerful heavy-lift launch architecture,
NASA can now move ahead with building that rocket and the
next-generation vehicles and technologies needed for an ambitious
program of crewed missions in deep space," said John P. Holdren,
assistant to the President for Science and Technology. "I'm excited
about NASA's new path forward and about its promise for continuing
American leadership in human space exploration."

The SLS will carry human crews beyond low Earth orbit in a capsule
named the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The rocket will use a
liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel system, where RS-25D/E engines
will provide the core propulsion and the J2X engine is planned for
use in the upper stage. There will be a competition to develop the
boosters based on performance requirements.

The decision to go with the same fuel system for the core and the
upper stage was based on a NASA analysis demonstrating that use of
common components can reduce costs and increase flexibility. The
heavy-lift rocket's early flights will be capable of lifting 70-100
metric tons before evolving to a lift capacity of 130 metric tons.

The early developmental flights may take advantage of existing solid
boosters and other existing hardware. These flights will enable NASA
to reduce developmental risk, drive innovation within the agency and
private industry, and accomplish early exploration objectives.

"NASA has been making steady progress toward realizing the president's
goal of deep space exploration, while doing so in a more affordable
way," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. "We have been
driving down the costs on the Space Launch System and Orion contracts
by adopting new ways of doing business and project hundreds of
millions of dollars of savings each year."

NASA elected to initiate a competition for the booster stage based on
performance parameters rather than on the type of propellant because
of the need for flexibility. The specific acquisition strategy for
procuring the core stage, booster stage, and upper stage is being
developed and will be announced at a later time.

To learn more about the development of the SLS, visit:




NASA Announces Major Decisions For Future Human Spaceflight

WASHINGTON -- NASA leaders will participate in two media events
Wednesday, Sept. 14, to discuss the new Space Launch System that will
take American astronauts farther into space than ever before.

At 10 a.m. EDT, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will join members of
Congress, including Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson, for a
news conference in SDG-50 on the ground floor of the Senate Dirksen
Building in Washington.

The event will be webcast live on the Senate Commerce Committee's
website at:


At 12 p.m. NASA will hold a background media teleconference with
William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human
Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, Doug Cooke,
deputy associate administrator for HEO, NASA Chief Financial Officer
Beth Robinson and other senior managers.

To participate, reporters must e-mail their name, media affiliation
and telephone number to J.D. Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov by
11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:


For more information about NASA's plans for future human space
exploration, visit:



NASA To Announce Kepler Discovery At Media Briefing

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA will host a news briefing at 11 a.m.
PDT, Thursday, Sept. 15, to announce a new discovery by the Kepler
mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson auditorium,
building N-201, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field,
Calif. The event will be carried live on NASA Television and the
agency's website at


Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets
in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system
where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.
Although additional observations will be needed to achieve that
milestone, Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a
wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better
understand our place in the galaxy.

A representative from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a division of
Lucasfilm Ltd., will join a panel of scientists to discuss the
discovery. The briefing participants are:
--Charlie Sobeck, Kepler deputy project manager, Ames Research Center
--Nick Gautier, Kepler project scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
--Laurance Doyle, lead author, SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif.
--John Knoll, visual effects supervisor, ILM, San Francisco.
--Greg Laughlin, professor for Astrophysics and Planetary Science,
University of California, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Reporters can attend in person or dial-in for the briefing. To
register or to obtain dial-in information, contact Michele Johnson at
650-604-4789 or michele.johnson@nasa.gov by 4:30 p.m. PDT, Wednesday,
Sept. 14. To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field,
NASA Parkway exit and drive east toward the main gate. News media
representatives must obtain a badge at the Visitor Badge Office,
located at the main gate.

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital
press kit, visit:



NASA Begins Commercial Partnership With Alliant Techsystems

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) of Salt
Lake City have agreed to collaborate on the development of the
company's Liberty Launch System as part of the agency's Commercial
Crew Development Round 2 activities.

The unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) through NASA's Commercial Crew
Program will allow the agency and ATK to review and discuss Liberty
system requirements; safety and certification plans; computational
models of rocket stage performance; and avionics architecture
designs. The agreement outlines key milestones including an Initial
System Design review, during which ATK will present to NASA officials
the Liberty systems level requirements, preliminary design, and
certification process development.

"This agreement will provide the opportunity to look at the Liberty
system to understand its design solution and risks, its capabilities
and how it could be used to fly our NASA crew," said Ed Mango, NASA's
Commercial Crew Program manager. The program is based at the agency's
Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA will provide feedback to ATK based on its human spaceflight
experience for advancing crew transportation system capabilities and
the agency's draft human certification requirements.

"With this SAA we believe NASA will benefit from gaining insight into
the various systems we are developing, and we can benefit from the
feedback," said Kent Rominger, vice president, strategy and business
development for ATK Aerospace. "In the end, we hope to offer a
commercial solution to NASA, the Department of Defense, and other
commercial human spaceflight programs."

For information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit:



NASA Selects Companies To Study Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected five companies to develop concepts for
demonstrating solar electric propulsion in space. These capabilities
are important for the agency's future human exploration missions to
deep space.

The selected companies, pending successful contract negotiations, are:

-- Analytical Mechanics Associates Inc., Hampton, Va.
-- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.
-- The Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif.
-- Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colo.
-- Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif.

The awards total approximately $3 million with a maximum individual
contract award of $600,000. Each company will provide a final report
to help define a mission concept to demonstrate the solar electric
propulsion technologies, capabilities, and infrastructure required
for sustainable, affordable human presence in space.

The ability to move payloads reliably and cost effectively to high
Earth orbits and beyond is critical for deep space human exploration.
The mission concept studies will identify technology gaps and look at
innovative technical solutions for transportation using solar
electric propulsion systems.

NASA will use the studies to plan and implement a future flight
demonstration mission that will test and validate key capabilities
and technologies. NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program
is funding the studies. The Space Technology Office at NASA's Glenn
Research Center in Cleveland is managing the contracts.

For more information about NASA exploration and other programs, visit:



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