Ares I-X Test Vehicle:
The Lunar Orbiter astonishes even today. It had to take pictures, scan and develop the film on board, and broadcast it successfully back to earth. Naturally, the orbiter had to provide its own power, orient itself without intervention from ground control, and maintain precise temperature conditions and air pressure for the film processing, and protect itself from solar radiation and cosmic rays – all within severe size and weight constraints.
Congress charged NASA with finding 90 percent of nearby space rocks greater than 140 meters (460 ft) by 2020. Now the National Research Council warns that the space agency will fall short of that goal without more funding. The National Research Council’s interim report points out the familiar situation where the government assigns NASA goals without the necessary funding to carry out its mandate.
The key to “saving the Earth” from a potentially cataclysmic impact (or even near-hit) is to find the threat early enough to do something about it.
A photo gallery of spacewalks.