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Human Spaceflight Bernie Roehl

I've always been a huge fan of the space program.
Back when I was a kid, I followed each new space mission from launch to splashdown. I could identify every spacecraft and launch vehicle, and quote their stats the way other kids could do with sports figures. The combination of following the real-life space program and the various science-fiction shows of the time was pretty powerful,Montblanc Meisterstuck Fountain Pen, and left me with a firm belief in the importance of scientificresearchand manned space exploration.
Of course, after the heady days of the Apollo program were done, things got relatively boring. The space shuttle was a brilliant piece of technology, but it was designed to operate only in a low earth orbit. Exploration was left to robotic probes.
Now we're at a turning point in the history of manned spaceflight. The space shuttle is due to be retired at the end of next year (2010),after which the United States -- once the world's leader in manned spaceflight -- will no longer be able to put human beings in space. In fact, they'll be relying on the Russians to use their spacecraft to send American astronauts to the international space station! The only other country in the world capable of manned spaceflight will be China,Montblanc Etoile de Montblanc Etoile Precieuse Ballpoint Pen, with their spacecraft.
It's amusing that the only spacefaring nations will be the Russians and the Chinese, who have traditionally been the ideological opponents of the United States. Quite a change from the 1960's!
Of course,Montblanc Boheme Paso Doble Blue Fountain Pen, that situation is temporary. The US does plan to resume manned spaceflight around 2017, using their Orion spacecraft (essentially a larger and more modern Apollo spacecraft), and they're even talking about returning to the moon and on to Mars. All of that is in a state of flux, though, since it's quite clear from the Augustine Report that NASA is far too under-funded to even consider those types of missions.
What I find most exciting is that the vacuum being left by NASAis being filled by so many other interested parties. We're about to see a renaissance in manned spaceflight, and it's going to happen in the next five or six years.
If you ask someone how many manned spacecraft are currently being developed, they might guess one or two. The fact is there are at least nine such craft in various stages of development. That's right -- nine! Here's a list:
That's quite a list, and it doesn't include some less-likely contenders such as Japan's space agency () and the . The European Space Agency (ESA) has also talked about a and there are smaller projects like the , the and .
Even if only a few of these actually make it into space, it will still give us a much more diverse human spaceflight program than ever before.
Exciting times!
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