Constellation vs. Direct 3 vs. Shannon Alternative

I’m having a hard time forming an opinion on which Shuttle-replacement plan I prefer. At first glance the Ares 1 does seem to be a safer way to get humans into orbit, but the Shannon Alternative is a lot cheaper. Direct 3 has been causing a lot of buzz, so there must be something to it, right?

Maybe I’m just dissappointed in that all three plans seem to be a giant step backwards in terms of aestethics/sexiness. Is there even that much of a difference between these contenders?

What does sexy have to do with it? Your only concern should be placing as much payload in orbit (or thrown into space) as possible for as little as possible. But I will say that given the issues NASA has had in keeping a side mounted object “safe” I’m surprised anyone would go with the Shuttle C idea.

What is the “Shannon Alternative”? Googling those words brings up nothing.

A modified heavy lift shuttle evolution -->

Though I should be fair - if there is no orbiter, then falling ice is really not a concern.

Shannon’s SDV looks like a great idea: Change as little as possible, remove the riskiest shuttle parts (no escape stage, reentry surface able to be damaged).

The major drawback I see: only 2 astronauts at a time? That’s a major step back, for both orbital missions as well as lunar missions. I think that might be a project killer.

Bah, I thought you were proposing an alternate-history version of this battle using this ship, and I wondered what you were up to.