Yay! Exciting space news. The Ares 1-X has successfully completed its first test flight.
Photo courtesy of NASA at www.nasa.gov
The Ares rockets are slated to replace the Shuttle program which is planned to have its last flight in 2010.
On one hand this is great as the Ares rockets can push larger payloads into space. On the other hand it’ll involve recovery operations for the rockets themselves and ye old plunge-back-to-earth capsules. It does feel like we’re taking a couple steps backwards in the Space program. Worse, there could be a five year gap between the Ares program going fully live and the Shuttle program ending. This means having to rely on other countries to get our payloads into orbit.
There’s got to be a smarter way to do this. Whether its pushing funding toward private ventures ala the X prize, or some other alternative – we need to find a reliable way to explore space and get humanity off this one rock.
NASA is woefully underfunded. That’s sad considering what space exploration and study has brought us. A highly visible, highly successful Space program not only inspires the imagination, it creates high-paying, high-end jobs, and a slew of support roles. It can also revitalize manufacturing when it’s at a level no other countries can handle.
Tech and science is the future folks especially in a country that can no longer compete in low-end, mass manufacturing. So why can’t we get a smart sensible discussion of it by the talking heads and our political leaders?