Contact: June Malone
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

NASA has created a new program office to lead its effort to enable development of a new reusable launch vehicle for flight in 2010 that will be dramatically safer and less expensive than today’s rockets.

The new Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle program office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is part of NASA’s Space Launch Initiative and an integral part of the agency’s Integrated Space Transportation Plan.
Other elements of the plan include upgrades for safety of NASA’s first generation RLV, the space shuttle, and developing technologies for third and fourth generation transportation systems.

The office, charged with identifying requirements and developing technologies for the 2nd Generation RLV, is seeking proposals from industry and academia to reduce the business and technical risk associated with developing the next-generation reusable launch system. The proposals are a step toward enabling development of a launch system beginning in 2005, leading to an operational system that will dramatically increase safety and reduce the cost of space flight.

The second generation RLV program will build on NASA’s current X-33, X-34 and X-37 programs – testing new materials, structures, propulsion, computers and other technologies needed to meet the program’s goal of significantly increasing safety to a 1 in 10,000 chance of loss of life and reducing payload launch costs from $10,000 per pound today to $1,000 per pound.

Dan Dumbacher has been appointed manager of the Second Generation RLV Program Office. He formerly served as manager of the Structures, Mechanics, and Thermal Department at the Marshall Center, deputy manager of NASA’s X-33 technology demonstrator program, and manager of NASA’s DC-XA technology demonstrator program.

Danny Davis, formerly manager of the Fastrac rocket engine project at Marshall, has been appointed deputy manager of the new office.

“We hope that this program will give a boost to America’s efforts to build a safer and more economical “highway to space”, make the multi-billion-dollar commercial space industry a clear world leader and stimulate competition — all for the good of the economy, as well as our nation’s future space exploration plans,” Dumbacher said.

Earlier this year, NASA solicited industry proposals and awarded contracts to define national mission needs and top level system requirements to meet safety and cost goals for a second generation RLV. They were the springboard for the five-year, $4.5 billion effort to reduce the risk associated with building and operating next-generation launch systems. The effort also is aimed at enabling more than one commercial option for private ownership and operation of reusable launch vehicles and opening additional market opportunities for getting cargo to the International Space Station.

NASA field center roles in the new program include: Marshall Center, program management, propulsion, cryogenic tanks; Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., airframe development; Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., thermal protection systems, automated vehicle health monitoring; Kennedy Space Center, Fla., ground operations; Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., flight testing; Johnson Space Center, Houston, crew systems and flight operations support; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, subsystems and propulsion support; and Stennis Space Center, Miss., engine systems testing. The U.S. Defense Department also will be involved in defining requirements and coordinating technical activities for the second generation RLV Program.