List of space launch system designs

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Key for abbreviations

HTHL: Horizontal takeoff, horizontal landing
VTHL: Vertical takeoff, horizontal landing
VTVL: Vertical takeoff, vertical landing
SSTO: Single-stage-to-orbit
TSTO: Two-stage-to-orbit
LEO: Low Earth orbit

List of space launch system designs covers[1] designs and concepts for rockets, launch vehicles, spaceplanes and other vehicles for sending payloads into space.

This is a list of plans, concepts, and/or proposals for launch systems such as rockets, spaceplanes and reusable launch vehicles, typically for orbiting the Earth. Plans may mature into an actual launch system, or may not be developed.

21st century[edit]

VentureStar at ISS
  • ESA Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (2004)
  • Space Launch Initiative designs (2000)[2]
  • Kistler K-1 TSTO (2000s)
  • Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (2010)
Side-mount, a non-reusable, cargo-oriented Shuttle-based launch vehicle with payload capacity (100 LEO/35-75 TLI)[3] tons for the heaviest variant, the lunar-capable vehicle (different versions with payload capacities 66, 68, 71, 81, 83 tons to LEO were also considered[4]). The vehicle is also known as Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle, High Confidence Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle, and HLV. In a picture shown at the 17 June 2009 meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee in Washington DC, NASA Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon introduced a High Confidence Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle capable of putting 104 metric tonnes to LEO.[5]
  • DIRECT proposals (2000s - 2010)
Direct's Jupiter-rocket designs studied under the DIRECT 3.0-program (started in 2006) include many versions, such as Jupiter-130 and Jupiter-246, with claimed lift capacities exceeding 60 and 90 tonnes to LEO (up to 100 tonnes with Jupiter-upper stage, and 120 with five-segment solid rocket boosters and upper stage) and the in-line-version (110 LEO/35-75 TLI).[3] Also older, DIRECT 2.0-program versions of Jupiter, like Jupiter-120 and Jupiter-232, exist.[5]
  • Constellation Ares I, IV, V designs (2000s)
    • Ares IV (40mt TLI) as part of the Constellation Program of 2005.[6]
    • Ares V Lite (140 LEO/55-120 TLI)[5][3]
  • Liberty TSTO (2000s-2012)
A rocket with 20,227 kilograms (44,593 lb)[7] to ISS orbit. The rocket consists of Alliant Techsystems Stage I (Ares I) and EADS Astrium Stage II (Ariane 5). It will cost less than $180M[7] or less than $8,899/kg.[7]
  • ITS launch vehicle (2016)[8]
SpaceX's first publicly released design of its Mars transportation infrastructure was the ITS launch vehicle unveiled in 2016. The payload capability was to be 550,000 kg (1,200,000 lb) in an expendable configuration (equal to the Sea Dragon) or 300,000 kg (660,000 lb) in a reusable configuration.[9] In 2017, it was succeeded by SpaceX Starship.

20th century[edit]

Developed to hardware test of flight vehicles[edit]

  • Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-based SHLV (75 LEO/26-55 TLI).[5][3]

Concepts and proposals[edit]

X-30 concept, single stage to orbit space plane with air-breathing engine within atmosphere
  • BAC MUSTARD, triplet shuttles (1964)
British Aircraft Corporation Multi-Unit Space Transport And Recovery Device
  • Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Raumtransporter-8 (1960s)[10]
  • MBB BETA, VTVL SSTO designs (1970)[11]
Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Ballistisches Einstufiges Träger-Aggregat (BETA)[11] BETA is similar to SASSTO, and three configurations were proposed: BETA, BETA 2, and BETA 3, each with different payload weight.[11]
  • Hypersonic Technology Program (1984)[12]
  • Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Sänger II 2-STO HTHL (1985)[13]
  • Deutsche Aerospace HORUS (Hypersonic Orbital Reusable Upper Stage) (1980s)
  • National Aero-Space Plane (1980s)
  • Rockwell X-30 NASP advanced tech demo (1980–1992)
  • Aérospatiale / ESA Hermes designs (1975-1992)
  • British Aerospace HOTOL designs SSTO HTHL (1982)
  • Jarvis with 38,000 kg mass to LEO. Studied in 1985.[14]
  • McDonnell Douglas DC-X/Delta Clipper SSTO VTVL tech demo (1990s)[citation needed]
  • Black Horse reusable SSTO proposal (1990s)[15]
  • "Black Colt" TSTO proposal (1990s)[15]
Smaller than "Black Horse", to launch orbital payload with a Star 48V solid rocket and in-flight refueling.[15]
  • Lockheed Martin VentureStar SSTO VTHL (1990s)
A single-stage-to-orbit reusable spaceplane concept using linear aerospike-engines by NASA/Lockheed Martin. Cancelled (federal financing) in 2001. Planned payload capacity of 20,412 kg to LEO.
  • Lockheed Martin X-33 SSTO technology demonstrator of the 1990s. Cancelled due to technical issues before testing.[16]
Simulated in-flight view of the Lockheed Martin X-33
  • Shuttle-C rocket proposal (1980s)
Uncrewed reusable cargo-vehicle studied by NASA in 1984–1995. Shuttle-C was designed to use much of the then-existing STS components and infrastructure. It would have had a payload capacity to LEO 80 or 60 tons. Many later studied Shuttle-derived launch vehicles, such as the SDHLV, have taken a lot of inspiration from the Shuttle-C plans.
  • Shuttle Z proposal (1990)[17]
Larger than Shuttle-C with 4 SSME (instead of 3) for 87,500 kg (192,900 lb) to LEO.[17]
  • U.S. National Launch System designs (1991)
Studied in 1991 but not implemented. The medium-lift rocket NLS-2 would have had a payload capacity of 22,700 kg to LEO and the heavy-lift rocket NLS-1 would have had payload capacity of 45,400 kg to LEO.[18]
  • Kankoh-maru spaceliner reusable SSTO VTVL concept )1993][19]
Part of Japan's Space Tourism Study Program in the 1990s
  • Magnum expendable rocket proposal (1996)
Proposed NASA design in the period 1996-2004 for a Mars expedition, but it never made it past the preliminary design phase. Planned payload capacity to LEO was 80 tons, and other versions of the rocket were designed with payload capacities between 55-94 tons to LEO.[20]

Shuttle related[edit]

  • ISEC Peregrine, satellite and human space transport ground-to-space aircraft.
Douglas Ithacus
  • Martin "Astrorocket" (1963)[1]
  • Lockheed "Reusable Orbital Carrier" (1963)[1]
  • Lockheed “System III & IV” (1963)[1]
  • North American HTHL TSTO (1963)[1]
  • Douglas "Astro" (1963][1]
  • CLASS III NOVA [General Dynamics “NEXUS”, Martin “RENOVA”, Douglas “ROOST”] (1963)[1]
  • Douglas “R.O.M.B.U.S.” (1963)[1]
  • Douglas “R.O.M.B.U.S.” & PROJECT SELENA (1963)[1]
  • Douglas “R.O.M.B.U.S.” & PROJECT DEIMOS (1963)
  • Douglas “Hyperion” (1964)[1]
  • Douglas “Pegasus” (1964)[1]
  • Douglas “Ithacus" (1964)[1]
  • North American Air-augmented VTVL SSTO (1963)[1]
  • NASA / DoD A.A.C.B. CLASS I & II (1965–66)[1]
  • NASA / DoD A.A.C.B. CLASS III (1965–66)[1]
  • Douglas “S.A.S.S.T.O.” (1966)[1]
  • McDonnell-Douglas “I.L.R.V.” (1968)[1]
  • Lockheed “Starclipper” (1968)[1]
  • General Dynamics “Triamese” (1968)[1]
North American Rockwell design for a space ferry, two reusable stages to orbit with piloted shuttles and internal fuel tanks
  • Space Shuttle PHASE-A designs (1969)[1]
  • MSC/North American CONCEPT-A “DC-3” [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • McDonnell-Douglas CONCEPT-B “FR-3C” [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • McDonnell-Douglas "Alternate CONCEPT-B" [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • Lockheed CONCEPT-C “LS-112” [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • General Dynamics CONCEPT-D “FR-3A” [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • Martin Marietta Spacemaster [Shuttle Phase-A] (1969)[1]
  • Boeing & Lockheed PHASE A/B Shuttle (1970)[1]
  • North American & General Dynamics PHASE B Shuttle (1970)[1]
  • North American & General Dynamics “B9U/NAR-161-B” PHASE B Shuttle (1971)[1]
  • McDonnell-Douglas & Martin Marietta PHASE B Shuttle (1971)[1]
  • Grumman & Boeing PHASE B Shuttle (1970)[1]
  • Grumman & Boeing “H33” [PHASE B Shuttle] (1971)[1]
  • Chrysler “S.E.R.V.” [PHASE-A Shuttle] (1971)[1]
    • Chrysler proposal for NASA Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle). Used some Saturn-infrastructure, one possible payload was small spaceplane called MURP (Manned Upper Reusable Payload).[21] Payload to LEO would have been 11, 51 or 57 tons depending on the launch configuration, most notably, whether the spaceplane was to be launched or not.
  • Alternate Space Shuttle Concepts (ASCC) (1970)[21]
    • 29 different configurations for Space Shuttles were studied at MSFC, including SERV.[21]
  • Lockheed “LS-200” PHASE-A Shuttle (1971)[1]
  • PHASE-B' "Shuttle Contractor Studies" (1971)[1]
  • PHASE-B' "Shuttle Cost Tradeoffs" (1971)[1]
  • Rockwell PHASE-C/D Shuttle (1972)[1]
Shuttle based HLLV
  • Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLLV), shuttle based launcher (1970s)
  • Solar Power Satellites Advanced Launch Vehicles (1973–80)[1]
  • Robert Salkeld's “Tripropellant" RLVs (1965–78)[1]
  • Martin Marietta / NASA-LaRC VTHL SSTO (1975)[1]
  • Boeing / NASA-LaRC HTHL SSTO (1975)[1]
  • NASA-JSC S.P.S. Launch Vehicles (1976)[1]
  • Boeing “LEO” VTVL SSTO (1976)[1]
  • Boeing 2-STAGE VTVL “HLLV” (1976)[1]
  • Boeing 2-STAGE VTHL “HLLV” (1976–79)[1]
  • Martin Marietta 2-STAGE “HLLV” (1977)[1]
  • Rockwell “Star-Raker” Ramjet HTHL SSTO (1978)[1]
  • Rockwell 2-STAGE “HLLV” (1978–80)[1]
  • NASA "Shuttle II" Advanced Manned Launch System studies (1978–89)[1]
  • “Spacejet” and other NASA-LaRC Concepts (1978–80)[1]
  • NASA-LaRC “Future Space Transportation System” (1981–84)[1]
  • NASA-LaRC “Shuttle II” (1985–88)[1]
  • NASA-LaRC “Advanced Manned Launch System" (1989)[1]
  • Boeing / USAF “Air-Launched Sorite Vehicle” [ALSV] (1979–82)[1]
  • Rockwell / USAF “Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle” (1980–84)[1]
  • General Dynamics “Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle” (1982)[1]
  • Lockheed / USAF “Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle” (1984)[1]
  • McDonnell-Douglas “Trans-Atmospheric Vehicle” (1984)[1]


Scale model of one design for a Saturn-Shuttle, basically the Space Shuttle using lower stages of the Saturn rocket family instead of the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB)
  • Saturn-Shuttle (1970s)
  • Saturn A-1, Saturn A-2, Saturn B-1
  • Saturn INT-18, a conceptual study in 1966 to build a rocket utilizing various Saturn V-components. Numerous versions were studied, with payload capacity between 21,300 and 66,590 kg to LEO (two heaviest variants had payload capacities of 51,700 kg and 66,400-66,590 kg to LEO.)[22]
  • Saturn INT-20, a proposed launcher in the 1960s–1970s using the Saturn V-components. Three variants were studied with the heaviest (the five-engine variant) having payload capacity of 60,500 kg to LEO, and the second heaviest (the four-engine variant) having payload capacity of 60,000 kg to LEO.
  • Saturn INT-21, described in a study of the 1970s to develop a smaller launcher based on Saturn V. It was expected to be composed of Boeing S-IC and modified North American S-II with payload capacity of 75,000 kg to LEO. Also heavier variants with payload to LEO 84,000 kg, 89,000 kg, 101,000 kg, 112,000 kg and 116,000 kg were studied (the heavier variants had successively more engines).[23]
  • Saturn MLV-V-1, a NASA study of an improved Saturn V rocket in 1965. Payload to LEO 137,250 kg.[24]
  • Saturn MLV-V-1A, a NASA study of an improved Saturn V rocket in 1965. Payload to LEO 145,000 kg.[25]
  • Saturn MLV-V-2, a NASA study to develop the Saturn V rocket in 1965. Payload to LEO 137,250 kg[26]
  • Saturn MLV-V-3, a NASA study in 1965 to improve the Saturn V. Payload to LEO 160,400 kg[27]
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S), rocket NASA studied in 1965. A developed version of Saturn V. Payload 118,000 kg to LEO.[28]
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S)-A, a development of the Saturn V studied by NASA in 1965. Payload to LEO 160,880 kg.[29]
  • Saturn MLV-V-4(S)-B, a rocket studied by Boeing in 1967. Was based on Saturn V. Payload to LEO 171,990 kg.[30]
  • Saturn V 2, a 2-stage version of Saturn V. Used to launch Skylab. Payload to LEO 75,000 kg.[31]
  • Saturn V/4-260, a rocket studied by Boeing in 1967-1968. Used Saturn V-components. Payload to LEO 362,700 kg.[32]
  • Saturn V-23(L), a Boeing study of a Saturn V-based rocket in 1967. Payload to LEO 262,670 kg.[33]
  • Saturn V-24(L), a Boeing study of a Saturn V-based rocket in 1967. Payload to LEO 435,300 kg.[34]
  • Saturn V-25(S)B, another Boeing study of a Saturn V-based rocket in 1967. Payload to LEO 223,500 kg.[35]
  • Saturn V-25(S)U, a Boeing study of a Saturn V-based rocket in 1968. Would have been used to launch the NERVA nuclear rocket to orbit for Mars-expedition. Payload to LEO 248,663 kg.[36]
  • Saturn V-3B, a Boeing-studied variation of a Saturn MLV-V-3-study. Studied in 1967. Rocket was based in the Saturn V-rocket. Payload capacity 166,600 kg to LEO.[37]
  • Saturn V-4X(U), a Boeing-study in 1968 extending the Saturn V-25(S)-study. Payload to LEO 527,600 kg.[38]
  • Saturn V-A, a NASA-study in 1968 essentially identical to Saturn INT-20. Payload to LEO 60,000 kg.[39]
  • Saturn V-C, a NASA-study in 1968 extending the Saturn V-A and Saturn INT-20-studies. Payload to LEO 81,600 kg.[40]
  • Saturn V-Centaur, another NASA-study in 1968 extending the Saturn V-A and Saturn INT-20-studies. Payload to LEO 118,000 kg.[41]
  • Saturn V-D, a NASA-study of 1968 extending the Boeing study of 1967 to develop a Saturn V-based rocket. Payload to LEO 326,500 kg.[42]
  • Saturn V-ELV, a NASA study of 1966 to develop Saturn V-based rocket. Payload to LEO 200,000 kg.[43]
  • Saturn C-2, a launcher first studied in USA 1959-1961. Design proposal cancelled in 1961 in favor Saturn C-3.[44]
  • Saturn C-3, a launcher first studied in USA 1959-1962. Final design revision became Saturn C-3B.[45]
  • Saturn C-3B, a launcher studied in the US in 1961. Cancelled after the Saturn C-5 was selected for Apollo program(Saturn C-5-rocket later evolved into Saturn V). Would have had the payload capacity of 78,000 kg to LEO.[46]
  • Saturn C-3BN, a launcher studied in the US in 1961. Cancelled after the Saturn C-5 was selected for Apollo program; the Saturn V-rocket was based in the Saturn C-5. Otherwise similar to Saturn C-3B, but would have utilized a nuclear upper stage. Payload capacity of 94,000 kg to LEO.[47]
  • Saturn C-4, an American launch vehicle studied for the lunar orbit rendezvous-method of lunar exploration. Lost competition for the launcher of Apollo program to Saturn C-5 (Saturn C-5 was modified slightly during the 1960s to produce the Saturn V-rocket) because Saturn C-5 had reserve capacity that the Moon mission designers wanted. Payload to LEO 99,000 kg.[48]
  • Saturn C-4B, the last variant of Saturn C-4 before Saturn C-5 was chosen for the Moon landing in 1961 (Saturn C-5 was modified slightly during the 1960s to produce the Saturn V-rocket) and the development of other Saturn C-series rockets was halted. Payload 95,000 kg to LEO.[49]
  • Saturn C-5, the rocket chosen for Apollo program in 1961. Saturn C-5's development was continued after it was chosen to be the American Moon rocket, and the result was Saturn V. The difference between Saturn C-5 and Saturn V (albeit small) is that the upper stages of Saturn V were enlarged in relation to the C-5. The Saturn C-5-configuration of 1961 had payload capacity to LEO 120,000 kg.[50]
  • Saturn C-5N, was a conceptual version of the Saturn V launch vehicle which would have had a nuclear third stage. Payload to LEO 155,000 kg.[51]
  • Saturn C-8, the largest of Saturn-variants to be considered. Was intended for direct landing method of lunar exploration, like the Nova's. Was abandoned after the Saturn C-5 was selected for Apollo (turn C-5 developed into the Saturn V). Payload to LEO 210 ton.[52]
  • Nova, a group of heavier-than-Saturn V launch vehicles studied by many American aerospace companies and NASA. Some Nova-rockets (most notably Nova C-8, Nova 8L) were intended for direct landing method of lunar exploration like the Saturn C-8, and these rocket-designs were cancelled (like the Saturn C-8) after Saturn V was chosen for the Apollo program. These rockets had payload capacity between 24-75 tons to translunar injection orbit TLI (Saturn V had payload capacity of 45 tons to TLI). Other Nova-rockets were also intended for Mars missions in the 1960s-1970s. The Mars-mission Nova-rockets had intended payload to LEO 301 ton - 455 ton.[citation needed]

Additional systems[edit]

  • Heavy launch vehicle (ISRO India) with 100 ton to LEO and 20 ton to Geo[53]
  • Angara-100 (Khrunichev) with 110 - 150 mt to LEO[54]
  • The Chinese Moon rocket with a payload capacity of 50 tons to lunar transfer orbit (there is a mention of a Chinese Moon rocket capable of lifting 50 tons to lunar transfer orbit in the Wikipedia article[dubious ])[55]
  • Galaxy Express or GX-rocket, using US first stage and Japanese upper stage, 3,600 kg mass to LEO, cancelled in 2010 after Japanese government stopped funding the project.[56]
  • Sea Dragon, a gigantic sea-launched rocket studied in 1962 capable of sending 550 mt to LEO.[citation needed]
  • UR-700M, designed by the Soviet rocket engineer Vladimir Chelomey for a carrier rocket for the Soviet Mars-program Project Aelita in 1969. The design was based on the Soviet UR-700-rocket. Capacity to LEO 750 tons.[57]
  • UR-700, a rocket designed by the Soviet rocket engineer Vladimir Chelomey in the 1960s to be the Soviet Moon rocket. UR-700 was based on Chelomey's UR-500-rocket (also known as Proton). UR-700 was designed to be used for direct crewed flight to the Moon. UR-700 was not chosen for the Soviet moon rocket, as the Soviets decided (like the Americans) to use lunar orbit rendezvous-method of lunar exploration, and develop the Sergei Korolev's N1 rocket. Despite this, the development of the UR-700 continued from 1962 to 1968. Different variants with 70–175 tons payload to LEO were conceived. The main variant had payload capacity of 151,000 kg to LEO and 50,000 kg to translunar trajectory.[58] The original design for UR-700 was later developed further by developing new upper stages to the rocket; these developments had payload capacity of 185,[59] 215,[60] 230–270[61] tons to LEO.
  • UR-900, proposed in 1969 for Soviet Mars exploration by Vladimir Chelomey. It was to be developed from the UR-700-rocket, and it had payload capacity of 240 tons to LEO.[62]
  • Superraket, a Soviet pre-1959 rocket study of a nuclear rocket with payload capacity 150,000 kg to LEO. Ancestor of the N1.[63]
  • N1,[64] N1 1962[65] and N1 1964;[66] these three rockets are different versions of the Soviet Moon rocket. All of the three rockets were designed by S. Korolev. The payload capacities to LEO were 95,000 kg for N1 1964, 75,000 kg for N1 1962 and 70,000 kg for N1. Different names for the N1 are N-1 11A52;N-1;SL-15;11A52;G-1 and for the N1 1964 SL-15;11A52;G-1.
  • N1 Nuclear A, a version of the N1 with nuclear upper stage studied by S. Korolev in 1963. Payload to LEO 270,000 kg.[67]
  • N1 Nuclear V-B, a variant of the N1 with nuclear upper stage. Payload to LEO 360,000 kg.[68]
  • N1 Nuclear AF, a continuation of the N1 Nuclear A-study in 1963. Payload to LEO 300,000 kg.[69]
  • N1 Nuclear V, a variation of the N1 with nuclear upper stage. Payload to LEO 420,000 kg.[70]
  • N-IM 1965, a study of a developed version of the N1. Payload to LEO 155,000 kg.[71]
  • N-IF 1965, a study of follow-on to the N1. Payload to LEO 100,000 kg.[72]
  • N-IFV-II-III, a further study of the N-IF 1965. Payload to LEO 150,000 kg.[73]
  • N-IMV-II-III, a further study of the N-IM 1965. Payload to LEO 230,000 kg.[74]
  • N-IMV-III, a further study of the N-IM 1965 in 1965. Payload to LEO 185,000 kg.[75]
  • N-IUV-III, a further study of the N-IU 1965 in 1965.Payload to LEO 115,000 kg.[76]
  • N-IFV-III, a further study of the N-IF 1965 in 1965. Payload to LEO 125,000 kg.[77]
  • N-IU, a study by S. Korolev to further develop the N1. Payload to LEO 95,000 kg.[78]
  • N1F, the last version (with all the modifications made during the testing phase) of the N1. Cancelled in 1974. Payload to LEO 105,000 kg.[79] Another variant of this was N1F Sr (the two rockets differed in some aspects of the upper stages).[80]
  • N1M, a version of the N1 in the late 1960s that lost the competition for development to N1F, which became the final version of the Soviet Moon rocket.[81] N1F-L3M, a variant of the N1M. Development ended in 1971.[82]
  • N1-MOK was the final derivative of the N1. It was a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle studied in 1974. Payload to LEO 90,000 kg.[83]
  • Vulkan-Herkules, ultimate version of Energia, payload to LEO 200mt[84]

Miscellaneous early designs[edit]

  • HATV designs (1940s)[85]
  • Von Braun Ferry Rocket (1950s)
  • NOVA designs (1959)[86]
  • Mercury-Jupiter expendable rocket (1950s)
  • North American X-15B studies (1958)[87]
X-15B was a modified X-15 for spaceflight, launching on a various configurations of a SM-64 Navaho derivative or Titan I stages.[87]
  • Blue Scout/X-15/B-52 three stage to orbit proposal (1962)[87]

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Spaceflight : Space programs of the United States, Beta Ursae Majoris, Ashley Williams (Mass Effect), Shooting Star (spacecraft), Cosmology, Ariane flight VA253, IRIS Project
Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".

  • Comparison of orbital launch systems
  • Non-rocket spacelaunch
  • List of orbital launch systems
  • List of private spaceflight companies#Crew and cargo transport vehicles
  • Spaceplane
  • List of crewed lunar lander designs


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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