In late March, three astronauts thundered into space on board a Soyuz rocket. One will come back six months later; the other two will stay on board the International Space Station for a full year.
Why? Well, let me tell you … in video form:
I have mixed feelings about this mission; I think a lot of the biomedical science we’ll get is great (on top of the usual duties the astronauts have on ISS) and will prove helpful when we plan longer space missions beyond Earth’s orbit.
But I also worry about NASA’s future given the doubts I have about the path they’re following. I’m not a fan of the Space Launch System rocket, and NASA making plans based on this extremely expensive rocket system makes me pretty nervous.
At the very least, the next couple of years for American space exploration will be … interesting. With SpaceX gearing up to test its Falcon Heavy rocket, looking toward putting Americans back in space on an American rocket in just the next few years (and for less money than essentially any other rocket on Earth), I strongly suspect NASA—and Congress, and the White House—will have some pretty big decisions that will have to be made, and politics will no doubt hang heavy over such proceedings.