NASA’s dreams and ambitious vision to take people to the moon and Mars may be in jeopardy due to uncertain planning and funding.
According to a recent congressional report, NASA’s replacement for the space shuttle, the Constellation Program, is in jeopardy and members of Congress readily agreed at a hearing on the growing concern.
The United States Government Accountability Office said the Constellation program, scheduled to begin by 2015, is troubled by engineering, funding and mechanical issues.
The NASA program was meant to use heat shielding from the 1960s Apollo program, but experts apparently could not replicate the material.
NASA has planned the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle missions but both are in danger.
“If something goes wrong with the development of the Ares I or the Orion, the entire Constellation Program could be thrown off course and the return to human space flight delayed,” the report reads.
The official report also noted that existing test facilities are insufficient for testing Ares I’s new engines, including troublesome vibrations. Both vehicles also have weight issues, according to the report.
NASA’s Richard Gilbrech told the subcommittee hearing that the 2009 budget request for the Constellation program is $3 billion.