Space Launch Initiative Executive Management Council meets to discuss
program progress, direction
More than 50 NASA, contractor and university leaders of NASA’s Space Launch
Initiative (SLI) met Thursday, Dec. 6, to explore how new technologies and
various launch architectures under development today will help open the
space frontier for continued scientific exploration and economic expansion.

Members of the Space Launch Initiative’s Executive Management Council
assembled at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The
group consisted of NASA Headquarters officials, the directors of NASA’s
field centers and of Chief Executive Officers and other high-ranking
officials of companies and universities with SLI contracts. They heard an
overview of the program’s progress to date from NASA’s SLI manager Dennis
Smith, and discussed upcoming milestones. They discussed what is needed to
make space flight significantly safer and less expensive – two primary goals
for the Space Launch Initiative – and how they can work together effectively
toward that end.

The meeting – the first Executive lead meeting since contract awards were
made last May – was viewed by the participants as a valuable communications
forum. The group agreed to meet every six months.

"This program is critical to our nation’s future in space. It’s important
that aerospace leaders meet face-to-face to chart the course for this
effort," said Art Stephenson, director of the Marshall Center, which leads
the Space Launch Initiative for NASA. "The companies partnering in SLI are
pushing technology frontiers. As partners, it is essential that we actively
communicate because each technology being developed can affect all the
others needed to develop a launch system. That’s why we are doing our
homework, developing the technologies first." Stephenson emphasized the
importance of proper execution of contracts and encouraged industry and
university leaders to get personally involved.

The Space Launch Initiative is a research and development effort designed to
substantially improve safety and reduce the high cost of space travel. The
program’s ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of launch to low earth orbit
to $1,000 per pound of payload and improve safety to loss of crew to 1 in
10,000 flights.

These cutting-edge advancements will be used for future government and
commercial launch systems and space transportation operations.

The Space Launch Initiative will lead to the development of a common set of
alternative technologies that NASA will make available to all U.S.

For more information, contact June Malone of the Marshall Center Media
Relations Department at or (256) 544-0034.

Fly-back boosters being studied for next launch system

NASA researchers are taking a detailed look at novel launch configurations
as part of the agency’s Space Launch Initiative (SLI). One concept features
a fully reusable, two-stage vehicle with a winged first stage booster.
After launch, the winged booster would separate – at a predetermined
altitude – from the main vehicle and fly back to the launch site for reuse.

Long before the first liftoff, researchers must thoroughly understand the
intricacies of two winged vehicles separating from each other at high speed
and at high temperature conditions – in a safe and efficient manner. To
this end, teams from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Johnson
Space Center in Houston, Texas; and the Marshall Center are taking the first
steps toward understanding the fundamental physics of multiple wing-body
separation through computer analyses and wind tunnel testing.

For more information, contact Keith Henry, at NASA’s Langley Research Center
at or (757) 864-6120.

Two recent news releases issued include:

NASA awards $94 million in contracts for Space Launch Initiative, 12/17/01;
available at

Aerojet completes first rocket engine test for SLI, 12/12/01; available at

Note to Editors/News Directors: Interviews and photos supporting the Space
Launch Initiative are available to news media representatives by contacting
June Malone of the Marshall Center Media Relations Department at (256)
544-0034. For more information, visit the Space Launch Initiative on the Web
at: or

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