Photos: Not every NASA project gets the green light


Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM); 1986 – 1993; $2.2 billion.

Source:  New Scientist

Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM); 1986 – 1993; $2.2 billion.

After the Challenger shuttle accident in 1986, NASA launched a project to replace the shuttle's solid rocket boosters – which had been the cause of the failure. The improved design was intended to be safer and somewhat more powerful, and would also be built in a government-owned factory so NASA wouldn't be at the mercy of a single contractor. With work progressing and the factory mostly completed, Congress refused further funding due to spiralling costs and a slipping schedule. ASRM's one crucial function – increasing the shuttle's lifting capacity in order to launch heavy space-station modules – was taken over by a lighter shuttle external fuel tank made of an aluminium-lithium alloy. In this image, a small, 1.2-metre solid rocket motor tests design features for the ASRM at a NASA facility in 1991. (Image: NASA-MSFC)


Facing budget and technical concerns, NASA may abandon the development of its Ares rockets. Here, amateur space historian Henry Spencer looks back at other big NASA projects that never got off the ground.
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