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“It’s time to remove US government from space operations”

The US’s new Ares 1 rocket is a big technical achievement, but it’s unclear whether it’s worth spending billions of dollars for a government vehicle that won’t be ready until 2017, space expert Jeff Manber told RT.

The International Space Station would be coming down a few years after the rocket is ready, he added.

On Wednesday, NASA's newest rocket, the Ares 1-X, finally blasted off after several delays over the past two days. It's the next generation of spacecraft, and is supposed to replace the space shuttle for trips to the International Space Station, exploration of the Moon, Mars and even further beyond.

According to Manber, “Today was the best of times and the worst of times.”

“We had a successful launch today – that’s wonderful,” he said. “Everybody in the space business loves a successful launch. But where are we going? The White House hasn’t yet given the green light to this program.”

“It’s a bit of a sneaky move on the part of NASA to do this test launch today and say, ‘Look, everything is fine. Just give us the money and we will go ahead and develop this program fully,’” he said.

Last week members of the US Human Space Flight Plans Committee, the Augustine Commission, issued a report delivering its conclusions on the US space program – namely, investment in the Ares 1 rocket.

“It recommended that we move commercially and let American companies develop the ability to fly humans to the space station,” Manber said. “The private sector does things quicker, more efficiently, more robust and we just have to stop relying on the government."