Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NASA Aims For Moon, Mars and Asteroids

SLS system
I hope later on we can all remember this moment as being as full of hope and promise as it seems right now. NASA is introducing, via a press conference, a new space launch vehicle aimed at taking astronauts to the moon, asteroids, and Mars. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison called the rocket “a new beginning.” There’s an aim to get people to Mars by 2030.

You can view a press release, complete with artists’ concepts and videos, for the new vehicle here, and watch the press conference here. And here is a more detailed story on the technology behind it.

This new rocket is in many ways a repudiation of much that the space shuttle stood for. Astronauts will ride in a capsule at the top of the rocket, as they did in the famous Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. This should make them safer than shuttle astronauts who were strapped to the side of the launch vehicle, the Senators said. It will have a massive ability to launch as much as 110 tons into space, four times what the shuttle could manage.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with one of biotech’s ranking futurists, Martine Rothblatt, more than a year ago. Rothblatt is currently chief executive of biotech United Therapeutics, which she founded, but before that she was one of the central figures in creating Sirius Satellite Radio. At the beginning of an interview for a profile I was writing about her biotech company, we spent some time talking about her first passion, which was space.

Read More

No comments: