After the final launch of the space shuttle Atlantis in 2011, many were concerned and curious about what was going to happen to NASA and space travel in general. The space shuttles had been in service since 1981, and marked a milestone as the first reusable spacecraft ever. However, they were aging, and after the 2003 Columbia accident that cost the lives of the entire crew of 7 astronauts, NASA decided that the time to retire the space shuttles had come. In 2004 President Bush made the decision that NASA would retire the shuttles and begin work on a new space program with goals of sending mankind into deeper space than had been previously attempted.
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The new system that NASA is designing is called the Space Launch System (SLS). The system’s design will incorporate some of the technologies from the space shuttles and the constellation program that have been proven and found reliable. The result is that NASA will utilize already mastered technology in order to help mankind reach further into space than ever before in a cost effective and affordable manner. The new space program is slated to send its new space craft into orbit as soon as December, 2017.
The Constellation program was designed to put a permanent base on the moon. It was scrapped in 2010 by President Obama because it was too expensive. This move opened the door to encouraging private companies to begin looking into building and sending their own space craft into space and to the moon. A few companies are already in the race, including Virgin Galactic, which has a permanent space port in Arizona and will send passengers into space for a sizable fee of $200,000.