While the United States celebrated its Independence Day on Wednesday, the most powerful nation on the planet still finds itself years away from regaining its own domestic crewed launch ability. Several companies are competing for a NASA contract to change that situation, including ATK – who are pushing forward with their Liberty Transportation System.
When Atlantis safely returned her crew back to Earth just under a year ago, her wheels stop on the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), it marked the end of the United States’ ability to transport its own astronauts into space.
A gap in capability was always going be something the country would have to endure, due to the “funding impossibility” of running the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) and International Space Station (ISS) at the same time as developing a new vehicle to be online shortly after the final flight of the orbiter fleet.
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As such, an undesirable outsourcing of launch services to the Russians was required, as NASA signed away $100s of millions of its own funding to purchase seats on the Soyuz, the only option available to them if they wanted to continue a ...