New NASA administrator Michael Griffin has pre-empted a major decision on heavylift capabilities for the US vision for space exploration by advocating use of a Space Shuttle-derived launch vehicle (SDLV).

NASA exploration systems associate administrator Craig Steidle was supposed to recommend to Griffin a choice between an SDLV and an evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) for heavylift applications after completion of the agency's ongoing analysis of alternatives (AoA).

"Our requirements are going to be…notionally 100t for heavylift requirements for return to the Moon," said Griffin, speaking to the Women in Aerospace organisation at Capitol Hill in Washington DC. "As NASA administrator, I al­ready own a heavylifter – the Space Shuttle stack. I will not give that up lightly because any other solution is going to be more expensive."

NASA would not comment further on Griffin's remarks, citing the unfinished AoA review and the fact that no official decision had been made.

The choice is between an SDLV, with 70t or 100t to low-Earth orbit (LEO) capability, and an EELV with 20t (or yet-to-be-developed 45t-plus) to LEO capability to put into orbit the 100t total of crew capsule, rocket stages, habitat modules and lunar surface access vehicles needed for Moon missions.


Source: Flight International