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NASA's new spacecraft and rockets
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NASA has been busy planning for a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), to be able to rendezvous with the ISS and then to take a crew back to the moon in conjunction with the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM). A Crew Launch Vehicle, named Ares I, derived from the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) will deliver the CEV to low Earth Orbit (LEO) while a larger rocket, Ares 5, will deliver ISS cargo of the LSAM to LEO. Once in LEO, the CEV and LSAM will dock and a J-2X Earth Departure Stage (EDS) will deliver the CEV/LSAM to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) at 100 km. The EDS is discarded and CEV/LSAM temporarily decouple. The LSAM then performs the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) to deliver the LSAM to the lunar surface will all 4 astronauts onboard. After some amount of time on the surface, an ascent stage from the LSAM boosts the crew back to LLO and the ascent stage docks with the unattended CEV. The ascent stage is discarded and the service module section of the CEV boosts the crew module (with crew) towards Earth reentry, and the service module is then discarded. The crew module reenters the upper atmosphere and an ablative heat shield slows the craft to a point where it is captured by the Earth. Parachutes then slow the crew module for a land (or sea in emergencies) landing. Whew, safe at last from solar storms! Ares V will be able to launch 130 metric tons LEO inclined at 28.5 degrees or it can deliver 55 metric tons to trans-lunar orbit. By comparison, the Saturn V was capable of 118 metric tons to LEO or 47 metric tons to lunar orbit.
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