Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Orion mockup in Johnson Space Center Bldg 9

The Orion spacecraft is key to travel beyond low Earth orbit. Modelled after Max Faget's design for Apollo, it will travel much farther than Shuttle or SpaceX's Dragon. Even competing architectures like DIRECT are based on this design. As demonstrated 40 years ago, it is a great shape for the Moon and beyond.

Friday at JSC was a briefing on the current status of Orion with managers Mark Geyer and Larry Price. They showed some never-before-seen videos of engine firings and Launch Abort System tests. Overall they were upbeat about the program. They feel the Orion portion of Constellation is on track for a March 2015 human flight.

Every program like this has bumps. This week a report claimed that Air Force experts doubt the LAS' ability to carry the crew away from an exploding booster. Concerns like this need to be addressed. A greater challenge lies in the Ares I booster. Though the means to carry it is subject to change, Max Faget's reentry shape still survives.

Next Big Future hosts the new Carnival of Space!



Blogger nige said...

I suppose this Orion spacecraft has nothing to do with the Orion Project scrapped by NASA in 1965.

Is this new system cheaper than the Apollo technology? I'm wondering what advantages there are over the Apollo rockets which have been proved successful? Surely if there was any will to go back to the moon, the simplest thing to do would be to dust off the old successful blueprints and build more of the same?

Presumably modern technology will make travel to the moon safer and more efficient. E.g., computers are more powerful now than in 1969.

4:59 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

HI nige: The plan is to do Apollo on steroids, making things a bit bigger to support 4 on the Moon for an extended period. With the current plan two launches will be needed for each crewed mission. The planned boosters will use technology derived from Shuttle, particularly the solid-fuel boosters.

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