A component of the Vision for Space Exploration, the MPVC's development is taking place in parallel with missions to complete the International Space Station using the space shuttle before the shuttle is retired in 2010. The MPVC will be capable of carrying crew and cargo to the space station. It will be able to rendezvous with a lunar landing module and an Earth departure stage in low-Earth orbit to carry crews to the moon and, one day, to Mars-bound vehicles assembled in low-Earth orbit.
The launch vehicle combines two of the world's most reliable propulsion systems. ATK is the prime, providing the human-rated five-segment solid rocket motor as the first stage, and Astrium (an EADS Company), is providing the core stage from the Ariane 5 rocket, including the Vulcain 2 engine as Liberty's upper stage. Liberty has the capability to lift 44,000 pounds to low-Earth-orbit, the highest pounds to orbit of any other vehicle currently working under commercial agreements.
DIRECT 3.0 was an alternative approach to launching missions planned under NASA's new mandate: The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). DIRECT would replace the separate Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Ares V Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) with one single "Jupiter" launcher, capable of performing both roles. This forum as of now is closed. It will be available for your reading pleasure for historical purposes.