Constellation Still Flies Until March

Illustration by Chelsea Conlin–

I wouldn’t normally post again so quickly on the heels of an earlier post, but this is an important update to an earlier rant.  I can’t find much in the way of expert commentary on this development, so I’ll just jump in with my non-expert opinion and hope for the best.

Plus, I get to use this really cool sketch yet again that my illustrator, Chelsea Conlin, did for me last February when this issue first arose.  🙂  Be sure and click on it to see it full size.

Apparently Constellation, though officially dead, will continue on schedule until March 4th.  Do they have a launch test scheduled between now and then?  I don’t think so.  Either way that money might be better spent elsewhere, like shifted over and added to the R&D on Constellation’s replacement.  Then again, it isn’t really being replaced anyway, just renamed, so any further work on Constellation might be transferable already.  Maybe.  Some are trying to kill the solid rocket booster componant, and I don’t see how they could do that without completely redesigning the whole thing.

And remember the serious head whacking that took place in Congress back in the November elections?  The new Congress will get two whole months to fiddle with the NASA budget, the new rocket design process, plans, and priorities, and COTS before the final end of this program.  All those newbies in Congress (excuse me…honorable newbies ;-)) will have a bunch of new ideas.  I have no doubt that some of those new ideas will be good ideas, but some of them will likely be still more pandering to their own respective corners of the workforce.  Who knows where it will all go from there.

The bottom line is more uncertainty.  I hope history fully recorded the disruption that this process has caused.  If a future president thinks that a NASA program needs to go away he or she might be right, but there are both good ways and bad ways to go about it ending it.  A sudden spring announcement of a cancellation that takes a 9 month (or more) act of Congress to actually implement might not be the best way.

Or maybe NASA come out ahead in all that news coverage this year, if the blogspace I’ve dedicated to it is any indication.  I’ve used the above sketch, what, four times now?  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this much mileage out of a single image…or topic.

I’m just glad that Commercial Space is on the move and getting things done in spite of our government spending a full year looking for a place to hang their hat.


~ by Bill Housley on December 28, 2010.

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