BMWX1

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Your Questions About X1

July 2, 2013

Steven asks…

Why is Nasa going backwards, dumping a shuttle for a rocket?

The new rocket is called something like Ares X1. Weren’t the shuttles a step up from the old technology of rockets? So with the Ares, are the astronauts going to splash down in the ocean like in the old days? Thanks!

Administrator answers:

The Shuttle was initially conceived as a cheap routine way into space but because of budgetary constraints during the deign phase it ended up far more compromised than initially intended. This included things abandoning the original idea of aircraft launch which made it less safe and paradoxically more expensive over the long haul, and the desire that a single vehicle be a jack of all trades, suitable for both manned missions and heavy cargo lift.

The result is an expensive, unsafe vehicle that does not do anything particularly well. Orion is much more focussed on manned missions and less restricted – the Shuttle cannot reach geostationary orbit, yet alone the Moon. The Orion capsules will have no such restrictions. Cargo lift will be given over exclusively to unmanned rockets that can lift more cargo and at far less cost than a manned mission.

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