A few things caught my eye in the last few days. First, this article from The Space Buff points out the unveiling of the new Orion spacecraft — without any actual missing to fill or a booster to lift it into space:
Then, the Constellation project—of which Orion was a part—was cancelled. Orion’s mission was over before it began, and it looked like Orion itself was a goner. But, for whatever reason, the Obama administration was persuaded to retain the craft…which no longer had a mission, or even a booster to send it into orbit. (The planned booster, Ares, was cancelled.) It’s mission now appears to be as an escape pod for astronauts living on the International Space Station. But without a booster, how will it get there?
Good point, and it seems to be reminiscient of the design tradeoffs that accompianied the Space Shuttle itself.
Secondly, SpaceX accounces the Falcon Heavy. The largest American launcher since the Saturn V. Now, I understand that until this thing actually flies it’s still a “paper rocket”, but, will we ever see this kind of progress from NASA itself? Given the history since the end of the Apollo program, it would appear not.