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Shuttle Replacement talk heating up?

Looks like the push to replace the Space Shuttle has revived, after Bush pretty much killed the effort (not the Shuttle) with his “let’s go to Mars” speech. The Washingon Times reports that NASA is planning to retire the shuttle fleet by 2010 and will need a new vehicle to send astronauts and supplies up to the International Space Station.

NASA initially planned to select two teams from among the proposals
submitted last week and award contracts of an unspecified amount for
both to begin design work in August or September. Then in 2008, the
agency would choose one contractor to actually build the vehicle, with
the first flight with people aboard scheduled for 2014.
NASA’s new administrator, Michael Griffin, found this scenario
unacceptable and put the agency on notice he intended to shorten or
eliminate the four-year transition time between shuttle and CEV.

Besides the usual big contractors looking to cash in, a local company based in Reston, t/Space, is pitching its own vision for the replacement.

Under the t/Space plan, teams led by Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman would still
build the CEV, but the vehicle would be designed solely to transport astronauts
between Earth orbit and the Moon. The job of getting astronauts up to their
Moon-bound CEV would fall to t/Space and an air-launched four-person capsule
they have dubbed the Crew Transfer Vehicle, or CXV. The projected recurring
cost of the service is $20 million per flight.

There’s already a good discussion on Slashdot.