The newest NASA animation about the constellation program.
Constellation is a NASA program with the stated goal of gaining significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, developing technologies needed for opening the space frontier and conducting fundamental science. Constellation was developed through the Exploration Systems Architecture Study, which determined the best way for NASA to pursue the goals laid out in President George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration and the NASA Authorization Act of 2005.
NASA plans to develop a host of spacecraft and booster vehicles in order to replace the Space Shuttle and send astronauts to the Moon and possibly to Mars as well. Currently, NASA is in the process of designing two boosters, the Ares I and Ares V. Ares I will have the sole function of launching mission crews into orbit. Ares V will be designed to launch other hardware for use on missions and will have a heavier lift capacity than the Ares I booster. In addition to these two boosters, NASA is designing a set of other spacecraft for use during Constellation. These will include the Orion crew capsule, the Earth Departure Stage and the Altair lunar lander.
As currently envisioned, the Orion spacecraft will be launched into a low earth orbit using the proposed Ares I rocket (the "Stick"). Formerly referred to as the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), the Ares I consists of a single Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) derived from the boosters used in the Space Shuttle system, connected at its upper end by an interstage support assembly to a new liquid-fueled second stage powered by an uprated Apollo-era J-2X rocket engine.