NASA's Space Launch Initiative:
Expanding access to the space frontier
By making space flight safer, more reliable and less expensive for both government and private industry, NASA'S Space Launch Initiative is expanding the horizon of the space frontier for scientific exploration and economic development.
The first step, identifying technologies relevant to the creation of a safer, more cost-effective launch system, is ongoing. The next step, technology development, is well underway. A $4.8 billion investment will be made during 2001 - 2007 for advancing technologies to state-of-the-art for supporting a full scale development decision about our nation's second generation reusable launch vehicle by 2006. The final step - a fully operational reusable launch system - is expected early next decade.
The Space Shuttle, America's first generation reusable launch vehicle, propels payloads at $10,000 per pound. Cost per pound on a second generation vehicle will be much less, making space-based industry a viable proposition for the private sector.
The Space Launch Initiative is also investing in NASA's unique needs, such as developing technology and vehicles to efficiently transport crews or cargo to and from the International Space Station. Such investments can save taxpayer dollars.
The Space Launch Initiative is the work of a nation, with industry, academia and government partners from around the country. Working to build the launch capability of the entire nation, the Space Launch Initiative is putting tools in the hands of those who will build the next generation rockets and create science and business environments unlike any in existence today.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in coordination with NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology, manages the Space Launch Initiative. The Marshall Center's efforts are supported by Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; and the Air Force Research Laboratory which includes research and development facilities at nine United States Air Force bases nationwide.