The primary payload for the Space Launch System will be the Orion spacecraft which NASA has been developing for several years to launch astronauts to points beyond low-Earth-orbit or “LEO.” Image Credit: NASA

SLS Garners New Proposals and Potential Destination

By Jason Rhian

Twenty-six proposals have been selected under the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) by NASA for advanced development activities for the Space Launch System or “SLS” – the space agency’s planned heavy-lift booster. The proposals were selected from within the aerospace industry and from academia.

These proposals were chosen to help develop SLS from the initial design to an iteration that can transport astronauts to points beyond low-Earth-orbit (LEO).

“Engaging with academia and industry gives us the opportunity to take advantage of the ingenuity and expertise beyond NASA,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It will help us optimize affordability while integrating mature technical upgrades into future vehicles.”

NASA has proposed to establish a base of operations at the Lagrange point 2 (also known as Earth-moon Lagrange point 2, ML2 or just “L2”). This outpost would be some 280,000 miles away – approximately 39,000 miles more distant than the Moon.

To get there, NASA will need SLS to provide the lift capable to send crew and cargo to such a far-flung destination.

To accomplish this, NASA has requested in a wide-range of fields from concept development, propulsion, structures, materials, avionics and manufacturing. The space agency is not going about this process alone. NASA has partnered with the U.S. Air Force in order to produce advanced rocket propulsion systems.

The total award amount to accomplish this objective is estimated at $48 million. For fiscal year 2012 the award is $8 million for industry with academia receiving much less at $2.5 million. Awards depend on the appropriated funds stability and availability.

The proposals from academia are as follows:

Read more: SLS Garners New Proposals and Potential Destination « AmericaSpace

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