A father-son chat leads to first-of-its-kind NASA spacecraft

(CNN) — The human imagination is an amazing thing. Take for example the story of how a simple father-and-son chat led to a prototype spacecraft for landing on other planets.

One Friday evening in 2009, NASA engineer Stephen Altemus arrived home from work feeling, well, kind of frustrated.

Altemus, who was chief engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, believed the agency was under “incredible pressure and scrutiny” for allegedly high budget costs. NASA’s ambitious Constellation program to develop a next-generation rocket was about to be canceled.

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