Back in 2006 I did a quick presentation on the future of American spaceflight. This was a relatively new topic for the time, since it had only been two years since President Bush had announced new space policy titled "Vision for Space Exploration," aimed at restoring public support (and financial resources) for future spaceflight. Only a year earlier, in 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the skies of Texas during atmospheric reentry.
In my presentation I laid out NASA's plans for retiring the Space Shuttle program - to the surprise of the then-oblivious class - and the development of two new rockets, Ares I and the larger companion Ares V. The plans included returning to the Moon by 2020, and sometime thereafter a manned flight to Mars. Even in 2006, it seemed as if the speed of the timeline detailed by NASA was unprecedented. It was almost as if the Space Shuttle program were disappearing tomorrow. At the end of my presentation, I took questions from both students and the teacher, many of which I could not answer. The only direct connection I had to NASA's project and the future of spaceflight was mere personal interest.
Here we are three years later, and NASA's Constellation Program is starting to materialize. The first launch of the Ares I test rocket was scheduled for 8 am ET today. However, weather delays and unexpected interruptions kept the Ares I-X mission on the ground.
NASA will try again at the same time Wednesday morning.
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