Public Release: 

July 2002 Space Launch Initiative Media Update

Here's what's new in technology development in the Space Launch Initiative

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

The Space Launch Initiative's Propulsion Office recently began a study to determine jet engine requirements for a flyback booster to help launch a second generation reusable launch vehicle.

The Propulsion Office, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in collaboration with the agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, kicked off the study to assess military and commercial jet engines that could power a reusable booster. Together with industry partners General Electric of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Conn., NASA is considering several engine options.

Currently, the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters are parachuted into the sea and retrieved for reuse after providing thrust to the Space Shuttle. The SpaceLaunch Initiative is considering vehicle concepts that would fly first stage boosters back to a designated landing site after separation from the orbital vehicle. These flyback boosters would be powered by jet engines once the booster rocket engines have shutdown and have been separated from the orbital vehicle.

The powered flyback booster would include several jet engines integrated into the booster capable of providing over 100,000 pounds of thrust. The booster would land on a designated runway shortly after launch.

The study will determine the requirements for the engines and identify risk mitigation activities -- how the engine requirements impact current engine designs and how to address risk issues, as well as identify costs associated with risk mitigation and jet engine development and production. The study also will result in candidate jet engine options to pursue for a flyback booster.


For more information, please contact Sally Harrington at the Glenn Community and Media Relations Office at (216) 433-2037 or by e-mail at or June Malone at the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034 or by e-mail at

For additional news and information on the Space Launch Initiative, please see these recent news releases:·

Detroit native Charles Smith helping to develop NASA's next generation reusable launch vehicle; 7/15/02; available at·

NASA awards contracts to investigate commercial services to supply International Space Station; 7/12/02; available at·

Diagnostic software to keep vehicles healthy, safer; 6/17/02; available at·

COBRA, engine option for Space Launch Initiative Propulsion, completes milestone review; 6/14/02; available at

Note to Editors/News Directors: The Space Launch Initiative Media Update is a regular progress report to keep you informed about the technology development activities of the program. Interviews and photos supporting the Space Launch Initiative are available to news media representatives by contacting June Malone at the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034. For additional news and information, please visit the Space Launch Initiative on the Web at: or If you would like to receive our releases by e-mail, please send your e-mail address to

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