"DIRECT" Space Transportation System Derivative v3.0
DIRECT is an alternative approach to launching missions planned under NASA's new mandate: The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). DIRECT would replace the separate Ares-I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Ares-V Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) with one single "Jupiter" launcher, capable of performing both roles.
This change to NASA's architecture completely removes the costs & risks associated with developing and operating a second launcher system, saving NASA $19 Billion in development costs, and a further $16 Billion in operational costs over the next 20 years.
DIRECT's single launcher system would use existing Space Transportation System (AKA the Space Shuttle) facilities and hardware to lift over 70 tons (in basic configuration) up to more than 100 tons (with an Upper Stage).
This approach introduces many advantages over the current Ares Launch Vehicles, such as:
- Shorter "gap" after the Shuttle retires (3 years vs. 5)
- Earlier return to the Moon (2017 vs. 2019)
- Delete all risks associated with a second new launch vehicle
- Delete all costs associated with a second new launch vehicle
- Optimum use of the existing NASA & contractor experience
- Enable multiple upgrade paths
- Greater range of safety alternatives for Crews