I was really into cars when I was younger, and by extension, car magazines. I particularly loved reading concept car articles, which came with glossy sketches and hyperbolic headlines like "Is this the next Corvette?" Sadly, I also learned production cars rarely end up looking their theoretical forebearers. Form usually gives way to function.
It's not much different in the space business. When NASA's Space Launch System was unveiled in 2011, it had a pearl-white paint job resembling the Saturn V Moon rocket. The initial artist's rendering, which featured an American flag fluttering in the foreground, was almost stunning enough to make casual observers forget the rocket was born out of one of the most contentious space policy debates of all time—one that continues to rage today.