New Scientist has launched an online poll to help the public decide which of the four proposals put forward for the next generation of space shuttles will be the most attractive.
Each of the three candidates for the US$5 billion space shuttle programme have proposed a new form of vehicle to take astronauts to the International Space Station, but the design of the new shuttle has yet to be determined.
The idea of an interplanetary vehicle is nothing new and the US Space Agency (NASA) has experimented with a number of concepts over the years.
But a new proposal to replace the current shuttle is a bolder version of the old idea, with the shuttle’s current orbital orbit replaced by an intergalactic one.
The new shuttle, called the Space Launch System (SLS), will replace the old Shuttle Endeavour (Shuttle-1) and will be able to carry astronauts to and from the International Metropolis, which will be located in Earth orbit.
The shuttle is designed to carry up to 16 people, but a more practical version, called Orion, will be used to transport cargo.
The space shuttle fleet is built to take on the largest of missions, and the new concept would see it carrying people to the ISS for between seven and nine days.
“The new interplanter is a very attractive idea because it is the first shuttle that we have ever made that is designed for human-spaceflight,” said Alan Stern, chief executive of Space Launch Systems, the company developing the shuttle.
“We are a little bit short of a shuttle that will be fully reusable, but we can still be extremely economical and provide a lot of value for our customers.”
In addition to Orion, the new version of NASA’s shuttle, dubbed the SLS-XL, would be able carry the crew to and fro between the International Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (IGOS) and the International Earth Observing System (IEO).
The shuttle would then land in orbit and dock with a rocket for resupply.
The shuttle’s orbital orbit would be replaced by a smaller orbit that is closer to Earth’s than its current orbit.
“There is a big gap between the two,” said Stern.
“We are really hoping to make up for that with an orbital approach to the station.”
The space shuttle’s orbital path will be closer to the Earth than the shuttle does today, but Stern said the new orbit will still be close enough to allow the shuttle to fly into space in a couple of hours.
The Space Launch system, which is currently scheduled to enter service in 2020, would use a modified version of SLS, which would have an orbital velocity of 7,000km/s, to make it to orbit.
It would then fly to the moon and back again, and return to Earth.
The next shuttle is scheduled to carry between seven to nine people to and for the International Exposition of the Russian Space Agency, but it is unclear when this will take place, and Stern said there was still no plan for it to be operational before 2021.
“I don’t think it’s in the cards to have it up and running before 2021,” he said.
The SLS would then dock with the Russian Soyuz rocket for a return to the earth’s atmosphere, and then carry on to the Space Station.”
The question of when that will happen is something that is open to debate.”
The SLS would then dock with the Russian Soyuz rocket for a return to the earth’s atmosphere, and then carry on to the Space Station.
The proposed shuttle would be launched by a rocket that has already been developed by Russia, the RD-180.
It has a launch mass of 9,000kg (22,000lb) and a top speed of 5,200km/h (3,600mph).
It would be the largest shuttle ever built and would carry a crew of about 14.
It will carry around 6,400kg (13,200lb) of cargo.
“The idea is that the shuttle will have a much larger payload than today’s shuttle,” said Jonathan McDowell, the former deputy director of the NASA Glenn Research Centre who is now a senior adviser at Spaceflight Industries.
“You would have a cargo capacity of around 3,500kg (5,000lbs) to about 8,000,000 kg (20,000-28,000) of payload.”
A lot of people would be very excited about that.
“The shuttle would also have a higher fuel efficiency than today, which could mean it could take longer to reach the station, but Nasa said the shuttle could reach its destination in just a few days.”
The first shuttle would take”
That would be about the same time as we would do today, and you would probably need to do it a little earlier.”
The first shuttle would take