The space shuttle is being phased out. Here is an artist’s depiction of part of the replacement, the Ares-I launch vehicle, which is scheduled for its first test launch this summer:
The Ares-I will be used for carrying crews into Earth orbit. The crew capsule will look similar to that used in the Apollo missions that took astronauts to the moon, but it can carry four to six astronauts rather than just three:
The space shuttle is used for lifting payloads that could be launched using unmanned rockets, which places astronauts unnecessarily at risk. NASA’s replacement launch vehicle for these purposes is the Ares-V, which will have a larger lift capacity than did the Saturn-V rocket, which was last used in the early 1970s. The Ares-V will be used for launching new components of the International Space Station, as well as for launching heavier components for missions to the moon and Mars.
LiveScience.com: Big Test Looms for NASA’s New Rocket
Wikipedia: Orion (Spacecraft)
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