Buck Rogers wrote:
Well that being said I think that the Orion spacecraft systems with Ares 1,and 5 could be redirected to Mars instead of the moon
If you really hate your astronauts and if you want to gaurantee that nothing useful is ever done on Mars again, yeah, that would be a great ideal.
The problem with Constellation is that it duplicates Apollo solutions to Apollo problems. We don't have Apollo problems, so duplicating their solutions doesn't make a lick of sense. We have more time, we have better computers, and we have a better understanding of how to build and maintain structures in space; the old approach worked for its time, but what they're basically trying to do is the equivalent of Christopher Columbus struggling to develop GPS, fiberglass and outboard motors just so he can accomplish the trip to India with an outrigger canoe.
The better solution would be a type of mobile laboratory, something close to or larger than Mir with a VASIMR engine or something similar mounted on it. The ship can take its time, because it has plenty of time to take, plenty of provisions on board, plenty of abort modes, and ample radiation shielding so even if you have to turn around and crawl home, you won't die in the process. The advantage of such a craft is that you only need a relatively inexpensive capsule to rendezvous with it in orbit to transfer astronauts, equipment, food and fuel between journeys, instead of having to haul forty tons of spacecraft into orbit every time you want to fly somewhere (we don't HAVE to do that anymore, because unlike the Apollo astronauts we actually know how to build and maintain structures in space for long periods of time).
remember we have Ion drive tech right now,and that is successfull on a small scale all we have to do is expand our Ion drive program ,and attach it to an Ares/Orion spacecraft built in space to go to Mars for landing instead of moon of which can be done later as a automated mining outpost for He3.
Again: Ares/Orion would be a wasteful thing to mate to ANY useful engine system. At this stage in the game, any space craft you put into orbit that still has to reenter the Earth's atmosphere can never be as good an orbiter as one that never EVER has to return to Earth. The heavy heat shield and all other safety issues involving compatibility with launch systems and reentry survivability add complexity to the system that takes up vital weight and limited space, and Orion is even designed to be semi-reusable.
Really, it's as simple as this: the space shuttle was at best a mediocre spacecraft and a mediocre aircraft. Cut off the wings, the landing gear, the heatshield, the the cargo bay doors and the SSMEs, it becomes an excellent
orbiter, especially since the lack of a requirement for aerodynamics and reentry survivability means you can add propellant tanks for the OMS engines (bolt them right onto the wing root) and fly the thing out to GTO or higher. But if you have to carry around a dozen tons of "if any one of these systems fails we'll be incinerated on reentry," that's a dozen tons of shit you don't need for ninety percent of the mission.