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- Type: VAB
- Class: ship
- Part Count: 52
- Mods: 3
- KSP: 1.11.1
- Benjee10 sharedAssets
- Squad (stock)
The Space Shuttle, flown for an unprecedented thirty years between 1981 and 2011 had already begun to show its age by the beginning of the 21st century. It was both highly successful and flew 135 missions for a total of 1,322 days worth of mission time where it conducted the first capture, maintenance, and release of a satellite, the Hubble Space Telescope, on five different missions. It was planned to be a reusable space vehicle that could perform all manner of missions that had been handled by previous unmanned and manned spacecraft as well as missions that hadn’t been previously possible.
However it faced considerable criticism during its thirty year lifetime starting with the enormous cost for development, maintenance, and repurposing the craft for each mission which could cost nearly ten times that of an expendable spacecraft. It was also the most deadliest in the history starting with the loss of Challenger and its seven astronaut crew in 1987 and the loss of Columbia and its seven astronaut crew in 2003. It had few emergency procedures like with the launch towers of the Apollo and Soyuz or the ejection seats of the Gemini and as such there was no way to safely jettison the crew during a potential disaster.
The Constellation program was authorized by President George W. Bush in 2004 for a planned requirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, and create new cost-effective spacecraft which would re-use some of the Space Shuttle technologies for the launch vehicle. The program eventually projected a needed for a sharp increase in funding by 2009 and as such President Barack Obama authorized it to be cancelled which was partly overturned by Congress in 2011.
The Orion Crewed Exploration Vehicle (CEV) began early development in 2004 and overwent a number of design changes, development priorities, and mission variants until put in its near-current form with an experimental orbital test flight in 2014. The vehicle is initially meant for a mixture of Low Earth Orbit missions including ferrying crew to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with longer term goals for potential lunar missions. The various versions of the vehicle can accommodate anywhere from two to six crew members based on the individual mission profile.
The Ares rocket was the one of the original proposals for a pair of launch vehicles developed for the Constellation program in 2004 which included two rockets – the Ares I for launching the crewed spacecraft into orbit and the Ares V which, among other things, could launch departure stages and even lunar or interplanetary landers into orbit. This would allowed a return to the Moon or beyond through Earth Orbit Rendezvous instead of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous.
There was a third proposal, the Ares IV, which was effectively just a test of the lower stage of the Ares V with the Ares I’s upper stage and in theory would launched a test uncrewed version of the OCEV or an actual crewed version. A more practical use for it would have been to launch circumlunar crewed missions minus a lander or additional Earth Departure Stage (EDS) similar to the Apollo 8 flight.
The in-game Ares IV implements an Ares V core stage with a pair of Shuttle Rocket Boosters (SRB) for the first stage which handles the ascent while using the Ares I’s upper stage powered by a J-2X engine for the orbital burn and, if necessary, the transfer burn to the Mun.
Built in the VAB in KSP version 1.11.1.