Upon directives from President George W. Bush, NASA has re-examined its goals for future spaceflight. The space shuttle will be retired by 2010. A new spacecraft, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle is being designed to return Americans to the Moon.
Specifically, NASA is directing its efforts to the following goals:
- Broaden its programs in science, aeronautics and exploration, while focusing the human spaceflight endeavors on exploration.
- Develop, build and fly a new Crew Exploration Vehicle (Project Orion) with its launch vehicles (Ares) by 2014.
- Develop and expand partnerships with private industries.
- Develop a program to return humans to the Moon, establish a lunar base and pursue subsequent exploration of Mars and other destinations.
Photo courtesy NASA
Besides governments, there’s a growing space race among private companies to be the first to establish sub-orbital and orbital spaceflights for space tourism. This race began with the Ansari X-prize, which was subsequently won by Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne (see How SpaceshipOne Works). The success of SpaceShipOne is being developed into a commercial venture called Virgin Galactic by Sir Richard Branson.
In this same spirit, the X-Prize foundation and Google have sponsored the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.
Such competitions and races as the original space race have brought about new technologies and products such as Mylar and GPS systems. They’ve developed new spacecraft like SpaceShipOne. And competitions between countries for national pride and between companies for profitable markets will provide incentives for the development of new space technologies and lay the foundations for the future of space exploration.For more information on the space race, space in general and related topics, shoot over to the next page to see more links. Related HowStuffWorks Articles
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- How the Gemini Spacecraft Worked
- How the Apollo Spacecraft Worked
- How Lunar Landings Worked
- How Space Stations Work
- How Space Shuttles Work
- How the Orion CEV Will Work
- How NASA Works
- How Virgin Galactic Works
- How SpaceShipOne Works
More Great Links
- 2006 NASA Strategic Plan. http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/142302main_2006_NASA_Strategic_Plan.pdf.
- China’s Space Program: An Overview. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/space/RS21641.pdf
- Mercury-13 the Women of the Mercury Era. http://www.mercury13.com/index.html
- NASA. http://www.nasa.gov
- NASA History Division. http://history.nasa.gov/
- NASA human Spaceflight history http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/
- NASA, “Sputnik the Fiftieth Anniversary.” http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/
- NASA, “The Decision to Go to the Moon: President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 Speech before a Joint Session of Congress.” http://history.nasa.gov/moondec.html
- NASA “Spinoff Homepage.” http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/
- NASA Earth Observatory, “On the Shoulders of Giants: Wernher von Braun.” http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/Giants/vonBraun/vonbraun_4.html
- NASA "Before This Decade Is Out...” Chapter 3 Wernher von Braun. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4223/ch3.htm.
- NASA SP-4209 The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Appendix B -Development of Manned Space Flight, American and Soviet. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4209/appb.htm
- NASA SP-4209 The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4209/toc.htm
- RussianSpaceWeb.com. http://www.russianspaceweb.com/index.html
- The Vision for Space Exploration. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html
- US Centennial of Flight
Commission, “Early Soviet Human Spaceflight Program.” http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/SPACEFLIGHT/soviet_
- US Centennial of Flight Commission, “The Soviet Race to the Moon.” http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/SPACEFLIGHT/soviet_