Getting back to the earlier topic...I think I like the idea that Shaun Christopher's flight was at such relativistic speeds that he and his crew took years to complete it, and the Ares
project could have been initiated in the intervening years (i.e. if the Ares 'third generation ion drive' was invented after Christopher's flight left).
It's about the only way I can reconcile the two, really. Strictly speaking, manned missions to farther planets (Saturn) should come after those to closer planets (Mars). But if the Colonel's flight was using much cruder technology, with cryogenics for the crew, relativistic time dilation, and all that, it would explain quite a bit.