A group of secretive rocket designers have defected from NASA's rocket-building team to spearhead their own forbidden project. They spend their evenings designing Jupiter (pictured), a moon rocket they think will work far better for less money then NASA's current moon rocket, Ares, set to bring some people to the moon in 2020. With all its plans available on a site called Direct 2.0, and nearly 100 engineers working, its possible Jupiter could zoom to the moon before Ares — if it can get some funding.
According to Yahoo! News:
They call their project Jupiter, and like Ares, it's a brainchild of workers at the Marshall Space Flight Center and other NASA facilities. The engineers involved are doing the work on their own time and mostly anonymously, with the help of retirees and other space enthusiasts. A key Ares project manager dismisses their design as little more than a sketch on a napkin that won't work.
A spokesman for the competing effort, Ross Tierney, said concerned engineers at NASA and some contractors want a review of the Ares plans but can't speak out for fear of being demoted, transferred or fired.
It's depressing to think that NASA engineers are so frustrated by their current projects that they have to strike out on their own. But looked at another way, it's fantastic that they're giving NASA a run for its money. I want to see more amateur and private moon rocket projects creating a competitive market for space travel. Image by Phillip Metschan for Horizons.
NASA Engineers Work on Alternative Moon Rocket [Yahoo! News]