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NASA’s Hot New Ride for 2014

Science & Space

It’s hard to know when to take NASA seriously anymore. In the past, if the big brains at the space agency said we were going to the moon, well, pack your bags, because we’re shipping out. These days? Not so much. As TIME has noted, one of the best ways to tell if any planned mission described in any NASA press release has a chance of actually flying is to use the Count the Conditionals Rule. The greater the number of references to what a spacecraft could achieve or when it should be flying, the less chance it’s going anywhere at all.

For years now, the manned space program has been drowning in conditionals. We were building spacecraft that could take humans to Mars—then we weren’t; we were committing ourselves to a new program that would have us back on the moon by 2015—and then we broke the commitment. But…

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