0 Replies Latest reply on Sep 14, 2011 3:59 PM by GardenState

    NASA announces big new booster rocket




      It’s back to the future for NASA. The U.S. space agency today unveiled the design of a huge Saturn 5-class booster intended to propel manned space capsules beyond low-Earth orbit and onto missions ranging from nearby asteroids to Mars.


      The initial version of the heavy-lift rocket will feature two five-segment, space shuttle-type solid-fuel boosters strapped to a 27.5-foot-wide first stage powered by three RS-25D/E space shuttle-derived main engines. Total first stage thrust is 8.25 million pounds, giving the rocket the ability to lift 154,000 pounds of payload.


      An upgraded version equipped with five shuttle main engines will have a liftoff thrust of some 9 million pounds and be able to loft more than 130 metric tons, or 286,000 pounds, to low-Earth orbit.


      For comparison, the 363 foot tall Saturn 5 rockets of the Apollo moon program generated 7.5 million pounds of first-stage thrust and were capable of boosting 263,000 pounds of payload to low-Earth orbit.