The minions are falling all over themselves these days, unleashing a zoo of alternative architectures on the 475nm ribbon panel. Shuttle derivatives, Direct, and depots.
As is the case for most of the minions' plans, they are a couple of animals short of a full ark.
First and foremost on the panel's mind is how the group that can't possibly launch the "soon, simple and safe" corn dog with humans before 2018 wants to tackle more complicated fare now. That's almost 14 years since the Vision for Space Exploration was announced in the E Street Theater. Some of the same bunch of Shelbyvillians that brought you NLS, SLI, X-33, X-34, Fastrac engine, and OSP (ooops, actually, they didn't bring you anything in these cases) now have a "better" plan to get the job done.
The billions of taxpayer dollars that have been sunk in the Alabama rocket quicksand are long gone. So are the dollars that have kept the Italian Waiter amply fed of late. And, so too, are the promised future dollars for the development of the current set of projects-soon-to-be-joining-the-aforementioned-list-of-incompleted-acronyms. All this leaves the panel also wondering how to pay for any of the less steroidally enhanced proposed menagerie?
Of course, there is one option that is slowly gaining favor...no new promises required to get it flying...and its already paid for...you know the one...the four letter one being screamed out loud in the halls of Huntsville.