NASA is trading an estimated six-month hit to its shuttle-replacement schedule by dropping plans to modify the shuttle main engine for the job, in exchange for long-term cost savings on the way to Mars. A decision to use a modern version of the Apollo-era J-2 upper stage engine to launch the planned Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) will eliminate the need to develop a Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) that can be started at altitude. And the lower power of the J-2--230,000 lb. vs. 512,300 ...

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