14 November 2002
NASA speeds space transportation plans
Washington, D.C. – NASA and the Bush administration have released details of a new, coordinated shift in three of the agency's major space flight programs. President George W. Bush amended his fiscal year 2003 budget request to accelerate implementing the revised plan.
A new integrated space transportation plan (ISTP) is intended to benefit the international space station, space shuttle, and NASA's science and research objectives, said NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe.
The ISTP dedicates more resources to the space station program; provides additional funding to extend the life and enhance the safety and reliability of the agency's orbiter fleet; boosts funding for science-based payloads and research; and restructures NASA's space launch initiative (SLI), originally designed to identify next-generation reusable launch vehicle technology.
O'Keefe said the new ISTP reflects important changes to NASA's five-year budget plan, but keeps costs within the original 2003 fiscal budget.
"The Bush Administration is proposing a comprehensive, strategic approach to link these critical programs to space transportation objectives," he said. "The new ISTP coordinates our investments to enable science-driven exploration and provides continued safe and reliable human access to the international space station."
A crucial component of the new ISTP is the development of a crew transport vehicle. The concept of an orbital space plane reflects NASA's need to ferry space station crewmembers and to ensure that a capability exists to get the crew home if there's an emergency. The concept will be the immediate objective of SLI's new research efforts.
Administrator O'Keefe said the orbital space plane is beneficial on several levels. "It's based on existing technologies and therefore lowers risk and is more affordable. It will replace the space shuttle as the primary crew transport vehicle, freeing the orbiter fleet to focus on heavy cargo delivery," he said.
SLI would continue to identify future reusable launch vehicle technology through a new next-generation launch technology program, investing money in propulsion, structures and other key areas.
"NASA's initial investment in the SLI is what makes the new ISTP possible, and SLI will continue to work to identify future technologies that will eventually allow us to leave low Earth orbit," said O'Keefe. "SLI provided us with the direction, and we feel this new ISTP provides a tightly integrated, systematic approach to address NASA's future space transportation needs," he said.
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