(ORDO NEWS) — The project, called the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP), has been in development for several years by a team of scientists from NASA, the University of California and Johns Hopkins University.
Now that SpaceX‘s Falcon Heavy rocket is about to begin its first flight tests, researchers believe humanity has the technology to make their dream a reality.
Although the authors of the project do not directly point to SpaceX in the context of UOP, they state that “the mission to Uranus is preferable to be carried out in the period from 2023-2032 on currently available launch vehicles.”
In fact, there is only one launch vehicle: the Falcon Heavy. There are technically three other alternatives: United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur, Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and NASA’s own Space Launch System (SLS).
NASA’s Europa Clipper orbiter, originally planned to launch on SLS but later moved to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to avoid major delays, was able to demonstrate that SLS was unsuitable for non-Artemis lunar missions without major upgrades. rockets.
Blue Origin’s reusable New Glenn rocket has not yet been sufficiently tested outside Earth orbit, and its testing is unlikely to be completed before 2024 or 2025.
Finally, ULA’s expendable Vulcan Centaur rocket has yet to launch, and its debut could easily be pushed back to 2023. And its boosters do not have the characteristics necessary to launch the orbiter and the Uranus probe (7235 kilograms).
Thus, the researchers pin their hopes on SpaceX.
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