University of Minnesota
Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
Fall 1999 Seminar Series

The Future of Space Transportation - Creating a Highway to Space

Steve Cook

NASA Marshall


Space transportation of the 21st century isn't just for professional astronauts. The dawn of the new millennium marks a turning point in our expedition to the final frontier. Throughout history, vibrant commerce has depended on ready access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is focusing on a progression of technologies that will enable undreamed economic uses of space, and make space travel affordable everyone. Until now, the high cost of getting to space has kept all but high priority payloads on the ground. But the financial barriers to space are beginning to crumble. NASA's fleet of X-planes - X-33, X-34 and X-37 - are demonstrating new technologies that will usher in a second generation of launch vehicles. The unpiloted X-33, X-34 and X-37 vehicles employ lightweight, composite airframe structures and propellant tanks. The demonstrators incorporate advanced, high-temperature thermal protection systems, capable of standing up to flights through rain and fog. Integrated, low-cost avionics, automated navigation, flight control and vehicle health monitoring systems and novel engine designs will improve performance, simplify operations and maintenance and, ultimately, lower the cost of future launch vehicles. In concert with NASA's X planes, the Advanced Space Transportation Program- NASA's core technology program for all space transportation - is investing in revolutionary technologies to increase reliability 10,000 times over today's spacecraft and at reducing the cost place payloads in orbit to $1,000 per pound within a decade. ASTP is investing in a wide range of technologies from long life, lightweight rocket engines to propulsion systems required for interstellar travel.

Friday, October 22, 1999
209 Akerman Hall
2:30-3:30 p.m.

Refreshments served after the seminar in 227 Akerman Hall.
Disability accomodations provided upon request.
Contact Kristal Belisle, Senior Secretary, 625-8000.