Very rarely in human history has a brand new craft been so crucial to the future of manned exploration of our solar system, and beyond. So far, the Saturn V rocket is the only vehicle that has been capable of transporting humans beyond low-Earth orbit.
The massive Saturn V was developed in the 60’s to meet President Kennedy’s mandate of landing a man on the moon and successfully returning him to the Earth.
It succeeded in that goal with Apollo 11 and those later missions (save for Apollo 13.) It was then replaced by the Space Shuttle as a recyclable alternative.
With the U.S. congress effectively killing the manned exploration program in the early 70’s, missions to Mars (the inevitable next goal) were postponed indefinitely.
But NASA has been re-energised with eyes on asteroids and eventually Mars… and to get there we’ll need a new vehicle to launch brave men and woman past the International Space Station, our way point for far too long.
With the realisation that we are just ten years away from the goal of landing a human on an asteroid, I am struck by what excitement there must’ve been in those early days of the Gemini and Mercury missions. I am excited to be alive for this next phase, and am in awe of my niece who will not know the anguish of waiting almost sixty years for another milestone in human exploration of our solar system.
I wanted to paraphrase a famous quote by Dr. Zephram Cochrane for this occasion:
“On this site, a powerful engine will be tested. An engine that will some day help us to travel further than we have ever before. Imagine it… our nearest planetary neighbour at our fingertips, and we’ll be able to explore that strange new world and seek out new life and (maybe) new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly, where no man… no one has gone before.”
To the men and women who have worked to get the Orion program to this point, and to all those that will work on future missions… Fair winds, following seas and God speed.
TREKZONE.org will continue live tweets throughout the launch window and post photos here, tomorrow.
Due to issues with a critical component, the launch was scrubbed. A new attempt will be made around 11pm AEDT.