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Until 2020 we will not reach the moon

The decision to cancel the Constellation program will affect NASA's goals in space, and will involve private parties and other countries in the United States' space program.

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The Apollo 11 crew - the pioneers of the moon landing. From left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collin and Buzz Aldrin. Photo: NASA
The Apollo 11 crew - the pioneers of the moon landing. From left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collin and Buzz Aldrin. Photo: NASA
On February 1, 2010, the Constellation program was canceled in a decision that has historic implications. As NASA's plan since January 2004, Constellation was designed to fly astronauts to the moon by 2020, and as part of it, the development of two new launchers, Ares 1 and 5, was started in the construction of a manned spacecraft named Orion and a lunar lander, Altair. As of this writing (early February, T.E.), the decision still requires approval by the American Congress, but the chance that it will not be approved is zero.

Many months have been waiting for this decision by US President Obama, since since the beginning of his term a year ago, the president has not made any statement on the subject of US space policy and NASA's goals. A signal that the program was in danger was contained in the report of the inspection committee for the US manned space program (the Augustine Committee) appointed by Obama, which produced a very critical report on NASA and the conduct of the Constellation program.

The immediate meaning of the decision is that for the first time in the history of the US space program it does not have a government manned space program, and that NASA will rely entirely on a foreign country (Russia, using the Soyuz spacecraft) to launch astronauts into space, and then on the private sector, which develops spacecraft Manned and unmanned to launch astronauts and equipment to the International Space Station.

The head of NASA, Charles Bolden, who recently visited Israel at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, did not address the issue of the Constellation program, but emphasized several times that NASA will have to increasingly rely on the private sector in the space business. In personal conversations I had with Bolden, I brought up the subject of the Constellation program and the implications of the Augustine Commission on the future of NASA. Bolden did not confirm the "rumors" about the imminent cancellation of the entire program, but it was possible to understand from his words that a real change is expected in the path in which NASA intends to walk under his leadership. Bolden emphasized the importance of private initiative in space, noting that already today all NASA launch activities rely on commercial ventures, since even the American space shuttle is operated by an external contractor.

According to NASA's budget proposal for 2011, the development of the Ares missile (Ares 1 and Ares 5) will be canceled, and there is currently no other decision on the heavy launchers necessary to launch humans beyond low-earth orbit (the US will probably rely on the Falcon 9 heavy launcher from development the private company SpaceX, and possibly on the conversion of the Boeing-made satellite launcher, Delta 4, to a manned configuration).

NASA was directed to continue developing such tools that would increase the capacity of future space flight architectures while reducing the cost of launching compared to current systems. After the shuttle program ended, NASA agreed to pay Russia 50 million dollars for each astronaut it would launch. Private companies will be able to offer a seat for less money, but their instruments have yet to be tested, and they have not yet received the qualification to carry a person into space.

The decision to cancel the Constellation program will affect the US manned space program for decades, and it confines space exploration by astronauts to Earth's near environment. The vision of manned (at least American) missions to Mars today seems further away than ever, until the development of innovative propulsion systems that can shorten the long journey to the Red Planet.

The dramatic statement received immediate support from various space organizations, from astronaut Buzz Aldrin and many professional bodies in the world. The American space program needed a serious shake-up and focus, and it seems that the decision to cancel it (despite the billions of investments that went down the drain) gave NASA a time-out in which it could focus and serve as a research arrowhead, hand in hand with the entrepreneurial-commercial companies in the USA. The decision will probably also have an impact on the space programs of China and Europe, which will cause a profound change in the face of space exploration in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Tal Inbar is the head of the Center for Space Research, the Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space Research, and the chairman of the Israel Space Association.

14 תגובות

  1. Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!

    Such a shame, why doesn't anyone understand the other implications of this? You don't realize that a trip to Mars or the creation of colonies on the moon (yes, if you haven't noticed, Constellation wasn't supposed to just return man to the moon like you all think!) We are being developed technologically, you don't realize that if it weren't for the first trip to the moon and the need for equipment to monitor it, it is likely that we would not If you had a computer, not an iPhone, not anything, you would live like 15 years ago! And don't pretend that it's a small margin, economically and politically these trips are the most important thing!

  2. They do not have dedicated spacecraft for the mission of landing a man on the moon.
    For this, it is necessary to build mission adapted spacecraft and they did not do that because they were exploring other stars.
    In order to send a man to the moon, a spacecraft must be rebuilt with the latest technology and for that, too, you need time for research and experiments or risk the death of the astronauts - due to inappropriate/obsolete equipment/malfunctions - it takes time to adapt technology to the times.

  3. I propose to establish robotic research bases on the moon and Mars, (as has already been proven in the missions of Opportunity, etc.) these tools are able to cover large areas effectively, a research base will allow them to survive longer,
    And the construction cost will be (very) low compared to a manned base.

  4. I really didn't understand why they wanted to go back to the moon.
    The matter of the speed of the flight to Mars needs to be resolved before the next step and it is good that they concentrate on this problem..

  5. The new program is better than Constellation because of the large investment in R&D (which includes the development of new propulsion systems such as nuclear engines or those driven by plasma, all of which will be able to shorten the flight time to Mars from 8-6 months today to about XNUMX-XNUMX months at most) and thus lower the The amount of radiation that future manned missions to the Masadis will expose them to.

  6. You are right, there is logic in your words, that is, it is a problem of budgets and not of technological capabilities.


  7. Well, I made a little mistake in the calculations (respondent 4 confused me) it comes out to be less than 50 years, but still the question remains...

  8. It's a question of money and money is a matter of priorities.
    This is exactly the topic of the current article.

  9. Tam's question, I really don't belong to all the fans of conspiracies of all kinds and it's clear to me that man landed on the moon, but still (also somewhat inspired by response 4) how can you explain that 50 years ago (really history!) we landed on the moon, and today 50 years later with a lot of equipment and technology Much more advanced and sophisticated are we not able to do it one more time? What logical explanation is there for this puzzling thing?

    I would appreciate it if someone could enlighten me.

  10. "A seemingly small step on the moon in 1969" and 42 years after that and still not able to send a man to the moon.
    Every year they fly spaceships to the stars, they land on Mars, they fly every month, shuttles have established a space station, and we will live even in 10 years, and this is in doubt 50 years after the "big event of the small step" they are still not able to land a person, the deputy director of NASA said 5 years ago in an interview that in fact there is no They have technology to land a person from the hahaha…….?? Amazing, isn't it? After all, the eagle had already landed, so today there is no technology, or it was all disinformation and defiance against the Russians, who crashed a spaceship on the moon already in 1966. The Americans felt ashamed as a power that they were not only stepping on the spot, but stepping back like the famous exercise of the "Star Wars" space program The American one that was supposed to cover the sky with satellites that shoot laser beams with cruise missiles that in fact and this was intended to drag the Russians into huge expenditures of funds for research and building opposing satellites. So to be reasonable 50 years since and maybe more and no American will set foot on the moon is very strange or not? ????

  11. Very good, smart decision, and very correct!

    It's a shame to waste money, it's much better to develop the field of spacecraft and robotic probes that will carry out the research work on distant planets (controlled from Earth, or automatically based on artificial intelligence) and will even return various samples back to Earth.

    It's a shame in my opinion at this stage to spend money on sending people to the moon (it's mainly good for public relations and less for science)

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