So, it looks like NASA is back to doing something marginally important again (another mars lander wasn’t that cool). For the first time (again) we are sending actual live people to the moon. Now that they have had more practice with the unmanned ships/drones/landers, they are using two shuttles. The Ares I and the Ares V. The Ares I will be the manned shuttle, carrying the crew and the Orion Crew Exploration vehicle, and the Ares V will be the unmanned cargo and lander shuttle.

The Ares I (left in picture) is shaped a lot like a syringe, and it basically only holds the Orion and the crew. This will dock with the Ares V (right in picture) cargo shuttle in orbit. The Ares V looks more like the familiar space shuttles, only it carries a lot more stuff. NASA’s website describes the Ares V with: “Ares V will serve as NASA’s primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space — from the lunar landing craft and materials for establishing a moon base, to food, fresh water and other staples needed to extend a human presence beyond Earth orbit.” This almost makes it sound like somebody is planning on transporting materials for establishing a moon base to the moon using the Constellation project. Which would be quite awesome.

Although the name suggests something else, the Orion crew exploration vehicle is apparently for the exploration of space, primarily the area between the international space station and the moon. This is shaped like most of the past space capsules, looking like a Hershey’s Kiss with the top cut off, however this has the addition of two discs on either side that are solar panels to provide electricity. This capsule will dock with the Ares V to move cargo and crew around, specifically to and from the moon, and will dock at the international space station to do the same thing. (even the space program has docking standards… why can’t anyone else standardize things like that!) The capsule will also serve as an earth re-entry vehicle for lunar and Mars returns, but this time the capsule will not be landing on the moon.

Of course the timeframe on all of this is that the first manned mission will not be until the “2020 timeframe.” This means that since the invention of the airplane in about 1900, NASA can get one manned mission to the moon every 60 years. This second mission shows that the advancement of technology has no effect on the rate of progress our space program can make.

The average distance from the Earth to the moon is about 405,500 km and the shortest distance between the Earth and Mars is 54,500,000 km. So, if we do the math, the first person put on Mars by NASA should be in the year 9964.

No word yet on how NASA is looking to “Go Green” and reduce the emissions of these shuttles, or on how much evil deadly carbon it makes when you blow up a 5 story tall tank of oxygen-hydrogen rocketfuel.

all information and facts for this post were taken from NASA’s website: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/main/index.html

All images were taken from NASA’s website also. They are linked directly to the images on NASA’s servers.