Sunday, September 3, 2006

It's About Time

NASA has announced that the 25 year old Space Shuttle program will come to an end in 2010, after the completion of the International Space Station.

The shuttle program will be replaced by the new Orion spacecraft, an Apollo-type capsule which will be built by Lockheed Martin. This spacecraft, while similar in shape to the Apollo, will be three times larger, carrying up to six astronauts.
The Orion project will create about 2,300 new jobs: some 1,200 in Houston; 600 in Colorado, 300 in Florida and 200 in Louisiana.

Instead of another 25 years of going round and round the Earth, the Orion spacecraft will be part of an exploration mission called Constellation. The Orion, along with cargo vehicles, are slated to return to the moon by 2019. The plans are to build a permanent home base there and to ultimately send people to Mars.

"Space is no longer going to be a destination that we visit briefly," NASA associate administrator Scott Horowitz said Thursday. "We're going to learn to live off the land like the pioneers did."

Well, it's about damned time. I've been dreaming of this since astronauts last visited the moon in 1972, when I was 14.


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