The DIRECT story

The DIRECT story

Chris Bergin reviews the long history of the DIRECT Launcher project, including the NASA Authorization bill’s specification of a Shuttle derived heavy launch vehicle and the new NASA studies endorsing a DIRECT style “SD-HLV in line” design: A DIRECT handover – Movement leaders feel their work is complete –

It’s interesting that the biggest factor in the vehicle’s favor is political as it provides a big project for NASA centers:

[…] “We’re very strongly in favour of the new commercial space industry being given powerful support, and a budget does need to be allocated to new R&D work within the agency – both of those are highly supportable objectives.

“However, to do so at the cost of pulling all your resources out of the programs that make the foundation of the political support for NASA as a whole was not a smart plan.

“If FY2011 had gone forward unchanged it would have been devastating, because Congress would have had no reason to keep NASA’s budget in place any longer – and without political backing, there would be no money for any programs at all, commercial and R&D inclusive. That plan was, to me, nothing short of a recipe for political suicide for the agency.”

“The President has also indicated approval for this compromise, because it buys everyone a very healthy portion of what they wanted. Commercial and R&D both get healthy funding. Congress gets to save jobs in a bad economy and produce a new capability to help NASA reach beyond Low Earth Orbit for the first time in nearly 40 years. This is a win-win situation.

“This is definitely a ‘win’, but not just for us: NASA wins by keeping it’s strong political support and sustaining its budgets while all other agencies are suffering cuts. The contractors win by keeping many of the existing contracts. The workforce wins by saving more than 60 percent of the jobs that were otherwise to be lost. Commercial New. Space wins by getting more than $3 billion allocated over the next 6 years. R&D wins by getting its larger budgets.

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