How the New Mission to the Moon Will Work

The NASA 2009 Astronaut Candidate Class recruitment-for the first mission to the Moon in four decades-may be over, but if you didn't send your résumé, don't worry: you can still be a space couch potato and look at the pretty images and videos, like this newly-released NASA simulation showing how the whole thing is going to work.


Rather than building a huge, expensive, and very complicated rocket carrying a smaller space ship-like the powerful Saturn did in the Apollo missions-the Constellation program will use two rockets to send a larger spacecraft. The first rocket will carry the lunar lander along with a propulsion stage into Earth orbit. The second one, the Ares I launch vehicle, will carry the Orion spaceship with the astronauts on board, which will be rendezvous with the lunar lander in orbit and dock. Once docked, the propulsion stage will push the combined craft to the moon and some lucky, smart, and courageous astronaut would be able to say: "It may not be the first step, and it certainly won't be the last one." Or "Oh boy, whooooopeeeee-doooo!"

Both work for me. [Constellation Program]




Actually, I think the Shuttle was chalked up as a failure design wise. The size and weight of the shuttle had to be taken into account when sending payloads up into space. And why? So the astronauts could ride home in style? It's not like we were ever transporting anything back down to the surface. It makes more sense to have just a rocket for a one-way mission where the entire payload is going to stay in orbit. Let the crew come back in the smallest of capsules. Also, there's danger in having the return orbiter below the fuel tank, like on the shuttle. Pieces are shaken off and can damage the wings like they did in Columbia. With the Aries design, the entire lifting capacity can go to the orbiting payload, without having to reserve capacity for the return shuttle.


Did you see the size of the module where the command module came from? It's undoubtedly a cover for spy satellites and other secret stuff the gov didn't want us to know about.