Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Orbital Provides NASA with Another Option

Orbital's proposed commercial crew space vehicle.

Those obsessively opposed to commercial space access now have another target for their hatred than just SpaceX.

Orbital Sciences Corporation issued a press release today announcing "it has submitted a proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in response to the Commercial Crew Development-2 contract solicitation."

The company also provided several top-level details of its proposal for providing safe and affordable transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and for commercial activities in Earth orbit. Orbital’s concept includes the following details:

• A “blended lifting body” vehicle that will launch atop an expendable launch vehicle and return to Earth with a conventional runway landing. This design derives from studies performed by Orbital for NASA under the Orbital Space Plane program between 2000 and 2003.
• The vehicle would seat four astronauts, providing a cost-effective solution for NASA’s astronaut transportation needs, as well as enabling future commercial applications.
• The proposal baselines using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, but is flexible enough to accommodate other launch vehicle options.

Their concept is a re-do of the Orbital Space Plane project NASA had earlier in the decade, and is a kin of the X-37 project that begin with NASA in 1999 and transferred over to the Defense Department in 2004.

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