If I Like My Space Program, Can I Keep It?



As with so much else, nobody really knows. 

In the week which came between two launches towards the one destination almost everyone agrees is the ultimate goal of human spaceflight, at least at current technology levels, three press events shed a little light on the upcoming decision point facing the American space program. 

First, the good news. After a brief glitch which saw a critical orbit raising maneuver cut short, India’s MOM spacecraft has completed four of six planned burns, raising its apogee to more than 118,000 km, and is still on track for a Trans Mars Injection on December 1st. 

Also, on this coming Monday, NASA’s own MAVEN spacecraft is scheduled to liftoff on the way to Mars at 1:28 p.m. EST out of Cape Canaveral.  Powered by an ultra-reliable Russian RD-180 main engine, and the long running Centaur upper stage, the Atlas V vehicle will send MAVEN on…

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