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Sidemount Reconsidered

3 Apr 2010, 19:22 UTC
Sidemount Reconsidered
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When the Space Shuttle system was new, NASA planned a Shuttle-C for Cargo. The winged orbiters would be replaced by a cargo pod, powered by the same Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) and Orbital Maneuvering System. Without the burden of wings or crew compartment, this configuration could lift twice as much payload to orbit without risk to crew. During the first Bush administration, Shuttle-C was promoted as a heavy-lift vehicle for the Moon and Mars. The new booster's cost, over $5 billion US, led to it being abandoned. On June 17 before the Augustine Commission, Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon described this "Sidemount" booster, similiar to Shuttle-C. Because so many components are common with Shuttle, this could be built for about $6.6 billion. This is slightly more than the shutdown costs of Constellation (2.5 billion) combined with the proposed R&D budget for boosters (3.1 billion). For an extra cost, the Sidemount booster could be human-rated. A Moon mission would launch Orion with an extra stage to boost the crew into lunar orbit for rendezvous with the lander. Launch Complex 39 and much of the Shuttle workforce would be maintained.As promising as Commercial Crew is, terminating all of Constellation might be ...

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