White House Orders Review of Shuttle Replacement

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle in lunar orbit. Image Credit: NASA

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle in lunar orbit. Image Credit: NASA

The White House has ordered an outside review of NASA’s manned space program, including the planned return trip to the moon.  Current plans call for the retirement of the current shuttles next year with a replacement ready by 2015.  The replacement for the shuttle is a combination of two programs:  Orion & Ares. 

The Orion project is the crew vehicle for the astronauts.  Orion is part of the Constellation Program designed to send humans back to the moon, and then onward to Mars and beyond.

Artist concept of Ares I. Image Credit: NASA

Artist concept of Ares I. Image Credit: NASA

The Ares project is the launch vehicle for Orion & other cargo.  There are two types of Ares launch vehicles.  A smaller Ares I rocket is designed to carry the Orion capsule.  The Ares V is a larger rocket designed to put large cargo into orbit such as a lunar landing vehicle and supplies for a lunar base.  For more information on the review, see here.

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