Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Constellation Program

Gadabout finds it interesting that since NASA has announced that the Space Shuttle Program is nearing the end of its life cycle, that nobody is talking about what comes next. We have an international space station orbiting the earth, mention has been made of returning to the moon, and the President proclaimed that we are going to Mars.

As always, Gadabout is here to report the under-reported. The replacement for the Shuttle is the “Constellation Program.” Constellation is composed of the Ares I and Ares V Rocket launchers, the Orion crew capsule, A Departure Stage system, and Lunar Surface Access Module:

“Once in orbit, the Orion crew capsule -- the astronaut module delivered to orbit by Ares I -- docks with the orbiting Earth Departure Stage carrying the Lunar Surface Access Module, which will ferry astronauts to and from the moon’s surface. Once mated with the crew module, the departure stage fires its engine to achieve "escape velocity," the speed necessary to break free of Earth's gravity, and the new lunar vessel begins its journey to the moon.” [NASA]

In essence, we’ll have 2 rocket systems. The Ares I will launch astronauts into orbit with the Orion capsule, and Ares V (heavy lifter) will supply the Launch Stage system that will boost the Orion and Lunar Surface Access Module to the moon. The Ares V will also lift supplies for the International Space Station, as well as vehicle components for the impending Mars mission.

This is cool stuff, but gets very little press. Hey, we are going to be launching Ares I rockets by 2013 and will be returning to the Moon shortly thereafter. Mars? We’ll be there by 2025 at the latest. This is the real deal. Get excited!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah-- glorious space. Risky business, yes. But we were the first country to "step out" on the moon .I hope we reach Mars for that historic walk too.

Lacy Camy