Today is the fourth anniversary of President Bush's 'Vision speech' on the future American direction in space. Jeff Foust looks at why this year is critical to the future of the Vision, noting that presidential politics and budgets are only part of the challenge facing the U.S. space exploration effort.
Beyond the budget and politics, there are a number of other issues that could impede progress on, or even threaten the future of, the Vision over the next year. Project Constellation in particular has a number of key technical milestones in the coming year, and while NASA and its contractors are confident about their progress, some people continue to raise concerns about the current architecture, including whether the Ares 1 vehicle is underpowered (or the Orion capsule is overweight). If those concerns persist through the year, it might open the door for a reconsideration of the entire technical architecture should the next president decide to replace Griffin as NASA administrator.