In what is either a misreport or a stunning change of events since my chat with NASA’s Ares V man Phil Sumrall in February it appears that the agency is reconsidering ANOTHER stage for the cargo launch vehicle
credit: NASAThe American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aerospace America magazine’s August issue has an interview between Frank Sietzen jr and Sumrall inwhich its reported that an ongoing trade study is considering an expendable stage between the core and Earth departure stage. The two third-stage options that were considered can be seen on the right hand side of the portion of a presentation slide shown below
According to this NASA presentation these options were considered last year. Talking to Sumrall in February he said that the three-stage Ares V was dropped as an option because you ended up with a 122m (400ft) rocket and there were also additional costs involved in developing that third stage
So what has happened in the meantime?