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Rocket Launch Comes After Critical Review

by Susan R. Morrissey
November 2, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 44

Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA
NASA's Ares I-X test rocket.
Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA
NASA's Ares I-X test rocket.

NASA successfully launched its Ares I-X test rocket on Oct. 28. The 327-foot-tall rocket is the first demonstration of the agency's next-generation crew launch vehicle that will enable humans to travel to the moon and beyond. This achievement comes less than a week after a blue-ribbon panel delivered its full review of NASA's human space exploration program. The review provides details to support the committee's executive summary, released in September, that was very critical of the agency's current exploration plan. Specifically, the report finds that NASA does not have the resources to pursue meaningful human space exploration. Although the report does not provide recommendations, it does provide a series of options that would all require additional funding to the tune of at least $3 billion per year. The nearly 160-page report written by the panel, which was chaired by Norman Augustine, is now being reviewed by the Administration as it decides the fate of NASA's program. "We will be reviewing the Committee's analysis, and then ultimately the President will be making the final decisions" on NASA's future, a White House statement said.


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