WSF logo

sls-concept.jpg

SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM AND THE MULTI-PURPOSE CREW VEHICLE

On 11 October 2011, the Constellation Program was officially ended and the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was signed into law. Sections 302 and 303 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010  provides direction to NASA to develop the Space Launch System (SLS) and a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).  These sections of the act are show below:


SEC. 302. SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM AS FOLLOW-ON LAUNCH VEHICLE TO THE SPACE SHUTTLE.
(a) UNITED STATES POLICY.−It is the policy of the United States that NASA develop a Space Launch System as a follow-on to the Space Shuttle that can access cis-lunar space and the regions of space beyond low-Earth orbit in order to enable the United States to participate in global efforts to access and develop this increasingly strategic region.
(b) INITIATION OF DEVELOPMENT.− 42 USC 18322.
    (1) IN GENERAL.−The Administrator shall, as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act, initiate development of a Space Launch System meeting the minimum capabilities requirements specified in subsection (c).
    (2) MODIFICATION OF CURRENT CONTRACTS.−In order to limit NASA’s termination liability costs and support critical capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated  contracts necessary to meet the requirements in paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.
(c) MINIMUM CAPABILITY REQUIREMENTS.−
    (1) IN GENERAL.−The Space Launch System developed pursuant to subsection (b) shall be designed to have, at a minimum, the following:
        (A) The initial capability of the core elements, without an upper stage, of lifting payloads weighing between 70 tons and 100 tons into low-Earth orbit in preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
        (B) The capability to carry an integrated upper Earth departure stage bringing the total lift capability of the Space Launch System to 130 tons or more.
        (C) The capability to lift the multipurpose crew vehicle.
        (D) The capability to serve as a backup system for supplying and supporting ISS cargo requirements or crew delivery requirements not otherwise met by available commercial or partner-supplied vehicles.
    (2) FLEXIBILITY.−The Space Launch System shall be designed from inception as a fully-integrated vehicle capable of carrying a total  payload of 130 tons or more into low-Earth orbit in preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The Space Launch  System shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate capabilities for evolutionary growth to carry heavier payloads. Developmental  work and testing of the core elements and the upper stage should proceed in parallel subject to appropriations. Priority should be  placed on the core elements with the goal for operational capability for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016.
    (3) TRANSITION NEEDS.−The Administrator shall ensure critical skills and capabilities are retained, modified, and developed, as appropriate, in areas related to solid and liquid engines, large diameter fuel tanks, rocket propulsion, and other ground test capabilities for an effective transition to the followon Space Launch System.
    (4) The capacity for efficient and timely evolution, including the incorporation of new technologies, competition of sub-elements, and commercial operations.
SEC. 303. MULTI-PURPOSE CREW VEHICLE.
(a) INITIATION OF DEVELOPMENT.−
    (1) IN GENERAL.−The Administrator shall continue the development of a multi-purpose crew vehicle to be available as soon as practicable, and no later than for use with the Space Launch System. The vehicle shall continue to advance development of the human safety features, designs, and systems in the Orion project.
    (2) GOAL FOR OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY.−It shall be the goal to achieve full operational capability for the transportation vehicle developed pursuant to this subsection by not later than December 31, 2016. For purposes of meeting such goal, the Administrator may undertake a test of the transportation vehicle at the ISS before that date.
(b) MINIMUM CAPABILITY REQUIREMENTS.−The multi-purpose crew vehicle developed pursuant to subsection (a) shall be designed to have, at a minimum, the following:
    (1) The capability to serve as the primary crew vehicle for missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
    (2) The capability to conduct regular in-space operations, such as rendezvous, docking, and extra-vehicular activities, in conjunction with payloads delivered by the Space Launch System developed pursuant to section 302, or other vehicles, in preparation for missions beyond low-Earth orbit or servicing of assets described in section 804, or other assets in cis-lunar space.
    (3) The capability to provide an alternative means of delivery of crew and cargo to the ISS, in the event other vehicles, whether commercial vehicles or partner-supplied vehicles, are unable to perform that function.
    (4) The capacity for efficient and timely evolution, including the incorporation of new technologies, competition of sub-elements, and commercial operations.


The Space Launch System is the follow-on replacement for  the Space Shuttle which was retired in 2011. The goals are to go beyond the ability to send crews into low earth orbit and aim for a return to the moon, near Earth asteroids, La Grange points, and ultimately to Mars. The Orion MPCV (built upon the Orion being developed for the former Constellation Program) will provide the crew vehicle for these destinations.

 


Page last modified: 16 August 2015 17:48:56.