16 December 2008

Why we need Ares

Posted by Ryan Anderson

There’s an interesting article up at Daily Kos about the uncertain future of NASA. Here’s an excerpt:

But the traditional battle lines between manned and human spaceflight are, as usual, the crux of conflict. The Griffin era managers are concerned the Constellation program, consisting of the Ares heavy booster rocket[s] and the Orion crew module, will be delayed or scrapped altogether along with their life’s work. That conflict is most unfortunate, because these groups are not mutually exclusive, far from it.

The same Ares super rocket, or something like it, intended to put humans back on the moon and eventually on Mars has the power to loft 50,000 kilos of payload beyond the earth-moon system. A booster of that magnitude could put much of the ISS up in a single launch. It could put the ATLAS telescope, with its enormous 8 meter primary mirror that makes Hubble look like a pair of binoculars, in high earth orbit and have enough capacity left over to still put every major deep space unmanned mission launched in the last ten years beyond low earth orbit in one glorious shot. Regardless if the payload is deep space probes or crew capsules bound for the moon and beyond, we need Ares.