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Frequently Asked Questions About the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV)& Moon Return

With Answers Directly From NASA


Robotic Precursor Systems (RPS) - Mobile Power Generation Plant

Robotic Precursor Systems (RPS) - Mobile Power Generation Plant


What type of launch vehicle will carry the Crew Exploration Vehicle into low-Earth orbit?

A Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) consisting of a solid rocket booster and a space shuttle main engine driven upper stage will carry the spacecraft into orbit. The CLV can carry a payload of 25 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO).

Why was “shuttle derived” selected as the primary choice for the Crew Launch Vehicle, especially with the CAIB chairman Admiral Gehman and the NASA Administrator saying that the shuttle is a complex experimental spacecraft that will never be safe?

Developing a system derived from the most reliable elements of the space shuttle—the solid rocket booster and the main engines-- is the safest, most reliable, and most affordable means of meeting low-Earth orbit crew requirements. Shuttle derived refers specifically to the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and main engines not the space shuttle. We are retiring the shuttle orbiter, not the solid rocket boosters or the main engines.

Once the space shuttle is retired, we will still need heavy lift capabilities to space. Future lunar missions will require significantly greater payload to LEO than provided by the space shuttle. However, a shuttle derived heavy lift launch vehicle could lift 125 metric tons to LEO.

Also, the new spacecraft will provide its crew with a launch escape capability, something that the space shuttle does not have which, combined with its inline design, makes the new vehicle 10 times safer than the shuttle for ascent, according to NASA engineers.

When will the crew launch vehicle be available for integration with the new spacecraft? Wasn't NASA's plan to have the new spacecraft ready when the shuttle retired in 2010 allowing NASA continuous access to space?

We are working to make the new spacecraft operational by 2011, minimizing any gap in human space flight. The original proposal called for the CEV to be ready in 2014, which reflects the vision statement.

Where on the moon is NASA thinking about establishing an outpost?

We will make this decision after we conduct robotic reconnaissance missions of the lunar surface; produce a three-dimensional high resolution map; find and characterize lunar surface resources: and identify potential landing site hazards. Currently, the lunar south pole is a candidate for an outpost site based on its combined science and resource (water ice) potential. We are also consulting with lunar scientists to find the best possible landing spots for science.

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