Nasa to send humans into deep space again
25th May 2011 | 10:11
But has given up search for the Mars rover
Nasa has revealed that it is creating a new capsule which will transport astronauts to deep space, something it hasn't done since its Apollo missions in the Seventies.
The space agency is hoping to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit within the next decade in a specially created capsule that is being made by Lockheed Martin – a company that specialises in aerospace, defense and security products and was spoofed in the film Iron Man.
Move over, Rover
The new space plans have been borne out of old space plans. Initially the designs for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (or, to give it its hip-hop name, the MPCV) were meant to be for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle but this was canned by Barack Obama in a cost-cutting measure.
"We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there," explained Nasa administrator Charles Bolden.
"We hope to have test flights in this decade. We're not sure when but certainly as early as possible."
Theoretically, the MPCV is designed to be able to go to the moon or even Mars. If it does end up on Mars, then it could keep an eye out for the Mars rover, as Nasa has also announced it has given up its search for the Spirit rover.
"We no longer believe there is a realistic probability of hearing from Spirit," said Nasa, which obviously needs to cough up some cash and get a medium in.
The Spirit rover has been active for seven years but it seems that the harsh winter that Mars has been having has completely severed comms with the vehicle.
And we thought we had it bad when the airports shut because of snow.
Nasa is planning to launch a new rover this November when Earth and Mars are optimally aligned. If they miss this slot, then it will have to wait another two years.