Monday June 23, 2008 – NASA Glenn Research Center
On Monday, June 23, 2008, the 2008 NASA Academy attended a talk about the Crew Exploration Vehicle for the Constellation Program, the program that will carry humans back to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. A very knowledgeable Carol Ginty, from the Space Flight Awareness Group, gave the talk. The title of her presentation was “NASA Constellation Program- The Orion Spacecraft.” Ginty started off by giving us a briefing of the past space exploration missions and explained the difference between future missions and missions from the past. Originally, there was a “Space Race” between the U.S. and Russia. During that time period (1958-1972) NASA was receiving lot of funding from the government. Presently however the situation is much different. With a landmark presidential election on the near horizon neither presidential candidate seems to have a scientific platform, so NASA funding may be cut short yet again as it has for the past 30 years.
Ginty then informed us about the four missions that will be completed in the Constellation Program: The completion of the International Space Station, a seven-day lunar mission, a six-month lunar service mission, and an unmanned lunar mission. These missions will require new vehicle design, hence, the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles. Afterwards, Ginty named the other new Constellation components: the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, and the Altair Lunar Lander. Ginty was also quick to point out that the Constellation program is so massive and involved that the work necessary for the program’s success is split between all 10 NASA centers, each playing their own unique roll. Here at Glenn officials have been charged with being the lead team in the design of the new Service Module for the Orion CEV in addition to playing more minor rolls in communications.
Lastly on the day, Ginty made a point to inform us about the crucial role, we young scientists and engineers would play in the Constellation Program. It became very evident that if Constellation was to succeed it would not be on the shoulders of the current NASA scientists and engineers, but on the backs of each and every one of us. Constellation is the future of US manned space flight, and it will be up to the minds of Generation-Y to make it happen.