Encyclopedia Astronautica
Orion



zorilssm.jpg
Orion and LASM
Credit: NASA
American manned spacecraft. In development. NASA's Crew Excursion Vehicle for the 21st Century

On 31 August 2006 NASA selected Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor to build the Crew Exploration Vehicle, dubbed Orion. Orion's first mission would be to shuttle up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. It also would serve as a lifeboat for the station crew while docked for up to 210 days with the station. Orion was also designed to transport four crew to lunar orbit and back to earth for NASA's later planned return to the moon. Developments of the spacecraft would also provide the re-entry vehicle for return from any eventual manned Mars missions.

By the date of the contract award NASA had slipped the first launch date by almost four years, to 'no later than 2014'. Any moon landing (which would require funding for development of the Ares V launch vehicle and LSSM lunar module) would not come until 2020 at the earliest.

Lockheed Martin beat out a Northrop Grumman/Boeing team at the conclusion of a two-phase selection process. More than any previous contract, the spacecraft would be designed, developed, and built under NASA direction and on NASA premises. Lockheed Martin was to perform the majority of the Orion vehicle engineering work at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, and complete final assembly of the vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. All 10 NASA centers were provided work in terms of 'technical and engineering support' to the Orion project.

The cost-plus-award-fee incentive DDT&E contract was to run from September 8, 2006, through September 7, 2013. Estimated value at award was $3.9 billion. Follow-on delivery orders for production flight vehicles were expected to be issued as early as 8 September 2009. If all options were exercised, delivery orders would be issued through 2019 and had an additional total value of $3.5 billion. Additional 'sustaining engineering' work for Lockheed-Martin would be contracted in the form of task orders, issued concurrent with production delivery orders, with a total value of $750 million through 2019.

Development Cost $: 3,900.000 million. Cost Notes: Development cost. Crew Size: 6. Orbital Storage: 210 days. Habitable Volume: 10.23 m3. RCS Coarse No x Thrust: 16 x 445 N. Spacecraft delta v: 1,855 m/s (6,085 ft/sec). Electric System: 9.15 average kW.

Gross mass: 21,500 kg (47,300 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 11,750 kg (25,900 lb).
Height: 9.10 m (29.80 ft).
Diameter: 5.03 m (16.50 ft).
Span: 17.00 m (55.00 ft).
Thrust: 33.40 kN (7,509 lbf).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Orion CM American manned spacecraft module. Orion re-entry vehicle (crew module). A 25% scale-up of the Apollo capsule of the 1960's. More...
  • Orion LAS American manned spacecraft module. Orion launch abort system; consists of launch escape tower, adapter cone, and boost protective cover. Provides emergency crew escape during early boost phase of ascent to orbit. More...
  • Orion SA American manned spacecraft module. Orion spacecraft adapter. Transition section between Service Module and Ares booster. More...
  • Orion SM American manned spacecraft module. Orion service module. Masses estimated based on delta-V released by NASA. More...

See also
  • New Generation Crewed The world is facing a minimum five year period, beginning in 2011, when the venerable Russian Soyuz spacecraft will provide the only means of ferrying crews to the International Space Station. America's new Orion spacecraft, beset by delays, is unlikely to be arriving at the ISS until 2018 at the earliest - which was NASA's original date for retirement of the ISS. China has its slow-motion Shenzhou manned program, but so far they have shown no interest in involvement in the ISS program, or in sharing their hard-won independent space technology with outsiders. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Ares FBB American winged orbital launch vehicle. The ARES ((Affordable REsponsive Spacelift) concept was of a reusable fly-back booster with expendable upper stages. The US Air Force began development of a demonstrator in May 2005, with a first flight date of 2010. It was felt that derivatives of the concept could support all space lift requirements of the USAF. More...
  • Ares I American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Shuttle-derived launch vehicle design selected by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to boost the manned CEV Crew Exploration Vehicle into low earth orbit. A single five-segment version of the shuttle solid rocket booster would be mated with a Lox/LH2 upper stage powered by a single J-2S engine. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Lockheed American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, CA, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • N2O4/MMH Nitrogen tetroxide became the storable liquid propellant of choice from the late 1950's. Monomethylhydrazine (CH3NHNH2) is a storable liquid fuel that found favour in the United States for use in orbital spacecraft engines. Its advantages in comparison to UDMH are higher density and slightly higher performance. More...

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use