NASA’s Constellation program was designed to carry crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and eventually to the moon and to Mars. The program to date has consisted of development on the Aries I launch vehicle and the Orion exploration vehicle. Already in advanced stages of development, the program had already begun designing future missions when the news came that President Obama was canceling the program.
Throwing a monkey wrench into plans to return Americans to the moon by 2020, the Obama regime has decided to refocus the space agency into a research agency and a customer of the Russian space agency and heretofore nonexistent privately run space vehicles for future space travel.
Earlier, many members of Congress have already expressed their dismay and anger over the President’s decision to derail the American manned spaceflight program. From blasting NASA chief Charles Bolden, a former space shuttle pilot, to questioning the viability of commercial space transportation contractors, representatives have been aggressively questioned the cessation of the program that – to this point – is expected to have sunk costs amounting to $11.5 billion.
Concerns About Delays And Cost
One of the known underlying reasons involved in the decision to cancel the manned spaceflight effort is cost. The Constellation program was already over budget and possibly experiencing significant delays. Some within the government anticipated that by 2015 the cost of the program would become so intense that the government would have to cancel its support of ISS.
In place of NASA operated space vessels, Obama has proposed that the agency contract with private providers of space transportation that operate “space taxis” between earth and ISS. The only drawback to this plan is that no such private companies exist, nor do the space taxi vehicles.
Another initiative NASA will be charged with is developing engines capable of lifting heavier payloads into space in preparation for a presumed attempt for Mars in the distant future. The initiative will also fund development of space transportation that will help get people across vast distances (such as that between earth and Mars) in less time.
With the space vehicle that was scheduled to go into service by 2020 canceled, the design process will have to restart. First, someone will have to start a space taxi company, then that company will have to design the space taxi, test it, and then manufacture it. This process could easily take decades to initiate if it ever does at all.