This could be a reference to Pandoras Star/Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton.
There's a strong political subplot in this story, as well as the routine use of ressurection/rejuvenation technologies, and one of the central characters is an old astronaut.
The series opens with the landing on Mars of first manned trip to the red planet, only to have the glory of the feat undermined by an experimental wormhole from a physics lab in California. The pilot of the lander, and #3 to set foot on Mars, is Wilson Kime (sp?).
Within the story, humankind has settled hundreds of worlds, all connected by wormhole. When the events of the story occur, the first intersellar space craft is built to investigate.
The guy behind the building of the ship, Nigel Sheldon, selects Wilson to be the captain of the ship, based on his previous experience. Actions of saboteur on the ship result in an agressive alien species being freed from a stellar prison, resulting in war.