As the era of the Space Shuttle draws to a close, uncertainty hangs over the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) like the pall of smoke after a launch. Only eight more Shuttle flights are planned, to complete the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). After that, there will be a five-year hiatus before the next U.S. astronauts fly from the KSC–on the Ares launch system that is reminiscent of the Saturn/ Apollo era.
The NASA Authorization Act of 2008, which cleared Congress on September 27, gives the agency $208.4 million more for aeronautics research than last year’s budget.
Next year will mark the fortieth anniversary of man first setting foot on the Moon. Back in the early 1970s it was all systems go for human exploration of space but somehow the momentum was lost, and other priorities took over. Just maintaining an orbital presence above the Earth has been full of challenges with Space Shuttle failures and delays to the International Space Station.