Integrated Space Transportation Plan
The Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry states - "Aerospace is a technology-driven industry. Long-term research and innovation are the fuel for technology. U.S. aerospace leadership is a direct result of our preeminence in research and innovationâ€¦. reducing the cost to orbit is an essential ingredient for progress. The expense per pound of lifting humans, cargo and satellites into orbit has effectively limited us to utilizing space for only the most critical national missions. The result has been a narrowing, rather than a broadening, of our space ambitions."
NASA is aggressively pursuing new space vehicle and flight technologies in an effort to expand America ’s presence in space – building a future in which people and businesses will routinely travel,work and live in Earth orbit and beyond.
NASA ’s Space Launch Initiative was introduced in February 2001 to develop technologies and identify options for future space transportation systems, performing the critical analysis necessary for NASA to eventually proceed with full-scale development of a new reusable launch vehicle system. In November 2002, NASA revised the Integrated Space Transportation Plan to evolve the Space Launch Initiative to serve as a theme for two emerging programs. The first of these, the Orbital Space Plane, was intended to provide crew-escape and crew-transfer functions for the International Space Station. The second, the Next Generation Launch Technology program, was developing technologies needed for safe, routine space access for scientific exploration, commerce and national defense.
The Marshall-based Orbital Space Plane and Next Generation Launch Technology programs were canceled as a result of the President's Vision for Space Exploration.
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