A common question about In the Shadow of Ares concerns whether the “Ares” of the title is connected to the NASA Constellation program. It isn’t. In fact, our use of the name precedes it’s adoption by NASA for it’s now-mostly-cancelled rocket family by at least two years.
In the backstory, the Ares Project is a series of joint US-Russian exploration missions to Mars, based on the “Mars Direct” plan developed by Robert Zubrin. Beginning in early 2025, a series of six missions were planned, of which five were ultimately carried out:
- Ares I: first manned landing on Mars, described in the scene aboard the Penelope;
- Ares II: explored the area where Port Lowell is located at the time of the story;
- Ares III: the hab Odysseus disappears immediately after landing, leading to a short program hiatus;
- Ares IV: resumed the Ares program with an ambitious 6-astronaut effort to demonstrate settlement construction techniques (one result of which is the Jacobsen homestead);
- Ares V: the final exploration mission before commercial settlement began, during which Amber Jacobsen is accidentally conceived and born.
In our case, Ares is (like Apollo) the name of the program rather than a particular piece of hardware.