April 15, 2010

NASA Must Initiate Transition Plan for Heavy Lift, Maser Says (Source: Space News)
If NASA waits until 2015 to select a design for a new heavy-lift launch vehicle, it will be extremely important for the space agency to craft an interim program in a way that does not cause irreparable harm to the industrial base for space propulsion technology, said Jim Maser, president of rocket builder Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “We don’t want to see any Constellation contracts canceled until we have a transition plan and can transition the skill set,” Maser said. “We think the worst thing for the industry would be if all these contracts were canceled and then there was a pause of 12 to 18 months while [NASA] considered what to do next."

"It would not only be devastating to us, it would be devastating to the industry in terms of the impact on the work force and the ability to try to rebuild that once it was gone.” Moreover, the cost of propulsion would climb for the U.S. Defense Department because military customers would be forced to pay the entire cost of maintaining the U.S. propulsion infrastructure and work force. “The ramifications to the Department of Defense would be huge,” Maser said. (4/14)

Official Details 11-year Path To China’s Own Space Station (Source: Space News)
A top Chinese space official shared new details of an ambitious human spaceflight agenda that includes plans to conduct on-orbit rendezvous and docking experiments and development of a new heavy-lift launch vehicle in preparation for assembling a 30-ton space station on orbit by 2022. Wang Wenbao, director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, said the effort would begin with the launch of a Tiangong 1 docking-target spacecraft slated for early 2011. (4/14)

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