Space, The final Frontier, soon will be a little easier, and cheaper to get to. On August 12, 1981 the space shutter Columbia was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, in the following years 4 more shuttles were launched from the same pad, Enterprise, Endeavor, challenger and Discovery. 28 years later these space shuttles are being retired and replaced under NASA’s new Constellation Program. Constellation is an all encompassing program that will completely overhaul the current space program in the US and around the world. Breaking down Constellation into its different parts is as follows:
The Ares I and Ares V booster rockets are designed to Launch crew into orbit (Ares I) and Ares V will be designed to lift other hardware to be used on missions, and will be able to give greater lift, thereby more cargo can break into orbit easily.
Orion, is the actual crew compartment in the Constellation program, which can be broken down into two main parts the Crew Module, capable of comfortably holding 4-6 crew members at a time, and, the Cylindrical service module, containing the propulsion system and supplies, i.e. food and water.
Altair, when completed, will be the vehicle capable of transporting crew from the Ares l in the moon orbit, to the moon itself, similar, but much larger to the Apollo lunar lander, used most famously on July, 20 1969. Another main difference between Altair and the Apollo lander is Altair is to touch down on the moon’s poles, which is preferred by NASA, as they believe it is where water would be most easily found on the surface. However, like Apollo, the Altair lander can not be reused and will be discarded after it is used.
Earth Departure Stage the main system used to propel crew and hardware into orbit, as mentioned above, unlike the current space shuttle which used the same shuttle for both crew and hardware, the Constellation program will use two separate vehicles for respective cargo. Allowing each to be more suited for the exact mission it will be undertaking.
Constellation, however, is not without its blemishes, costs are soaring for the program, and critics, including to a certain extant President Obama, noted that NASA’s ambitious plans to travel to the moon and mars are completely outside of their current budget.
With all of the debate certainly not going to die down anytime soon, which is to expected with a program costing the tax payers Billions of dollars every year, the Constellation Program will be a source of much news in the coming years, could it be exactly what NASA needs to rekindle the Americans people fascination with space, and the space program, or prove to be a costly blunder that could set the program back decades. Only time will tell.