And what is really strange is that it takes an Australian publication to spread the news.
The story from ITWire, tells that the U.S. Congress finally realized that when the shuttle retires, there will be almost a 7 year span until the Ares program, which is hardly a full replacement, gets up to speed. This will cause a ‘vacuum’ in our space program like there has never been since the day in April 1961, when Alan B, Shepard did the first sub-orbital flight in the Mercury Freedom 7 spacecraft.
While there are many who will dismiss this as an acceptable scenario, citing the skyrocketing costs of spaceflight, these same people are usually the same ones who are the first to take credit for the nation’s achievements in science and technology. Somehow, the connection between space exploration, and the progress fueled by important discoveries in space seems to be a total disconnect for these ‘knowledgeable’ people. These are the people who don’t recognize that their car’s Tom Tom device has nothing to do with satellites in space; the phrases geolocation satellites and geosynchronous orbits are totally foreign.
For many months members of the Augustine Commission have been studying the various options available to the United States with respect to its NASA manned space program. Among its conclusions is that under the current NASA budget, the U.S. space agency will not be able to complete its future goals on a timely basis.
One of the recommendations by the ten-member White House advisory commission is that the Ares I program (one that would provide the rocket to launch astronauts into space under the new Constellation project) is well designed and thought out, but that the current budget for NASA does not support its success.
A test launch of a 327-foot-tall Ares I-X rocket is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, 2009.
In fact, the members saw that, under current funding, the Ares I would not become operational until 2017, two years after NASA’s stated beginning of its manned operations with Ares I.
The Ares I launch vehicle is part of the new Constellation project–including also an Orion space capsule, Ares V heavy-lift cargo launch vehicle, and Altair lunar lander–due to replace the space shuttle fleet, which is due to retire in late 2010, with some suggestions that it be extended into 2011.
The Report states, “The Committee estimates that, under the current plan, this gap [between the space shuttle retirement and the start of the Constellation project] will be at least seven years. There has not been this long a gap in U.S. human launch capability since the U.S. human space program began.”
It’s as if the data that has been gathered over the last few years meant nothing to these people until it was coalesced into this very report. The amount of lunacy is astounding. A ten year old child knows that when his mother tells him if he doesn’t put part of his allowance away for the trip to the theater on Saturday, he won’t be going to see the movie he wants to see so badly.
The people who are in Congress generally want the prestige of the space program, and the jobs it brings to their respective states, but when it comes time to press the button for the money, almost every finger is broken.
Of course, many of the average citizens are no different. Something for nothing is the guiding factor with many. Let someone else pay for it. That is precisely why the country is in the mess it is in right now. Too many people holding out hands for money, not enough wanting to do the work that makes that money.
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