Engineers planning NASA’s next effort to build vehicles to replace the retiring space shuttle fleet will start with an amalgam of the shuttle and its moribund Ares I and Orion follow-ons. As before, money remains a problem. The U.S. space agency’s “reference vehicle design” for a heavy-lift space launch system (SLS) incorporates five space shuttle main engines (SSMEs); a core stage based on the 27.5-ft.-dia. shuttle external tank; two five-segment versions of the four-segment solid-fuel ...
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