So they spent over 30 years rejecting Shuttle-derived cargo versions, and now it's suddenly a good idea? Might be something about the jobs.
And FYI, they ultimately DID reject the shuttle-derived cargo version, since they decided to
- Redesign the SRBs
- Redesign the main engines
- Redesign the ET to allow for an inline configuration
- Totally abandoned any discussion whatsoever of the sidemount configuration
The singular advantage of the DIRECT program was that they didn't have to DEVELOP anything at all; the side-mount configuration wasn't even a significant modification to the STS, it was really just a MODIFICATION of the existing stack by omitting the only truly expensive component of the system itself. The result is that a relatively practical spinoff of the shuttle program turns into a totally new design that is only distantly related to the shuttle at all.