Lots of travel and the holidays aren't helping my ability to do new posts, but just to keep the ball rolling, I found this infographic by NASA to be kinda neat. Put this on your cellphone to show your friends and family if you hear them moan over the holidays about the "death of the American space program".
From NASA:NASA is embarking on a new era of space exploration in which humans will travel deeper into the solar system than ever before. The International Space Station is the centerpiece for space operations. Serving as a test bed for research and new technologies, the space station is a steppingstone toward future exploration destinations. The commercial industry will transport cargo and eventually crew to the space station while NASA focuses on developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Space Launch System, and advanced exploration systems that will enable a sustainable human presence to destinations such as the moon, near-Earth asteroids and Mars. To learn more, visit NASA.
Click the pic to embiggen, or use the link below to see the full PDF.
Assuming the folks on Capitol Hill don't do something really dumb that guts NASA's budget, the future of spaceflight - both NASA and NewSpace - is going to be even more interesting in the next ten years than it was since - I don't know, let's say 1981. (I wasn't a big Shuttle fan, sorry. When I saw Endeavour at Udvar-Hazy in May this year I was struck by how huge that thing was and so I have genuine appreciation for the Shuttle as a technological achievement. It was truly impressive. But it was still inherently flawed as a launch vehicle/system, way too expensive, and left us literally going around in circles for nearly 30 years at the expense of doing more interesting stuff. Hats off to those who built, flew, and launched the orbiters, but it was way past time to end the program and start something new.)
I also have mixed feelings about SLS, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. I'll save that for a future post.
Image credit: NASA