What Now?

Now that the space shuttle programs have been terminated, what is there left for NASA to do?  With no more space shuttles, will we no longer be able to explore space?  Was space travel not the main mission of NASA?  According to the NASA website, the ending of the shuttle programs is not at all necessarily a bad thing.  It is not the end of NASA or even human space travel.  “NASA has a robust program of exploration, technology development and scientific research that will last for years to come,” (What’s Next For NASA?).

So what really is next for NASA?  NASA is going to be continuing work in the following areas:

  • exploration- NASA is working on developing a new flight vehicle (Space Launch System rocket) to transport humans beyond the orbit of Earth.  Engineers are also working to construct other technologies necessary for human exploration, such as solar electric propulsion, refueling depots in orbit, radiation protection, and high-reliability life support systems.
  • International Space Station- It is the centerpiece of human flight in low Earth orbit.  The International Space Station acts as an experimental station for exploration technologies and as a national laboratory, where crew members have committed to scientific research.
  • aeronautics- NASA is researching methods of constructing aircraft which is safer, more efficient, quieter, and environmentally responsible.  They are working to create traffic management systems that are safer, more efficient, and more flexible.  Technology is being developed to improve routing during flights and to give aircraft the ability to climb to and descend from their cruising altitudes with ease.  NASA promises to continue to validate new, complex aircraft and air traffic control systems to ensure they meet extremely high safety levels.
  • science- NASA is conducting missions that will seek new knowledge and understanding of Earth, the solar system, and the universe.  NASA’s science vision encompasses questions that are all practical, enticing, and profound.
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