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NASA confirms major SLI changes coming
Posted: Sat, Nov 9, 2002, 9:55 AM ET (1455 GMT)
Boeing SLI concept NASA announced Friday that it plans major changes to its Space Launch Initiative (SLI) program, scrapping plans to develop a second-generation reusable launch vehicle (RLV) in exchange for a space plane to be launched on an expendable vehicle. In a statement, NASA said it was planning to submit to Congress next week an updated Integrated Space Transportation Plan (ISTP) that will be implemented starting with the 2003 budget. The new ISTP will include space shuttle upgrades, research into next-generation launch technology, and an "Orbital Space Plane", a reusable crew transfer and return vehicle that would be launched on an expendable launcher to ferry crews to and from the station, and possible serve as a crew return vehicle for the station. the change marks a major, although not unexpected, break from NASA's original SLI plans, which called for selecting an RLV design by mid-decade that would then be built to eventually replace the shuttle. In the statement, NASA claimed that SLI's goal was "to identify feasible options for future NASA space transportation", a task that NASA believes it has now completed. NASA also said that it is considering increasing the space shuttle flight rate as well as looking at ways to expand the station beyond the "core complete" milestone.
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