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Old September 12 2009, 03:51 PM   #11
Location: New York City
private sector funding?

The committee's report puts forth five alternatives for human exploration of the solar system: continue with the current Constellation program; slow down and stretch out the Constellation program; focus on extending the life of the ISS to 2020, and develop a smaller version of the Ares V heavy-lift rocket for moon missions; extend the Space Shuttle to 2015 and the ISS to 2020 using either commercial services, a lighter version of the Ares V, or a shuttle-derived concept; and sending astronauts on deep-fly-bys of the moon, asteroids, and Mars.

The committee has stated that Mars is "unquestionably the most scientifically interesting destination in the inner solar system...but it is not an easy first place to visit with existing technologies and without substantial investment of resources." Therefore, it recommends that the U.S. travel to the moon first or follow a "flexible path" option--in other words, embark on a series of deep-space rendezvous and fly-by missions before attempting to land astronauts on Mars.
James Oberg, a space expert and former NASA engineer, says that the report's recommendation to develop commercial orbital access is central to some of the options. "There are some remarkable orbital vehicles that are being designed by the private sector," he says.

NASA's current budget for fiscal 2010 is approximately $18.6 billion, an increase from fiscal 2009, but the human space exploration program has received $3.4 billion less than was suggested by the previous administration. In addition, the budget's profile through 2020 is around $80 billion--$28 billion less than what the agency was told it could expect four years ago, when it devised the Constellation program.

However, the Constellation program, which calls for developing the Ares I rocket for flights to the ISS by 2016 and building the Orion crew capsule to return humans to the moon by 2020, has attracted criticism. Logsdon says it's clear that the committee does not think the Ares I is a good idea and that the most feasible date for moon landings would be mid-2020s.

Why not have a rocket with painted sponsor logos & crew uniforms with patches with logos painted on it ala NASCAR?
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