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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Lockheed streamling Orion testing to fly by 2016

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Author Topic:   Lockheed streamling Orion testing to fly by 2016
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 04-22-2011 07:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aviation Week reports that Lockheed Martin has cut out an entire test article from the Orion crew exploration vehicle that it is recasting in a new role as deep-space Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), combining test objectives for the remaining articles in an effort to keep the vehicle within the tight schedule set by Congress.
By combining the tests that will be conducted with particular test articles, the company plans to send an Orion capsule into orbit on its first test flight in 2013, according to Cleon Lacefield, the company's program manager. The first capsule produced is now being prepared for ground tests at company facilities here and once those are over, it will be reinstrumented to fly on the first ascent abort test in 2014.

By dropping the test article originally intended for that evaluation -- which is intended to validate the ability of the vehicle's solid-fuel escape tower to pull it off a failing launch vehicle at maximum dynamic pressure during ascent -- the company has been able to start work on the test capsule that will fly to space for the first time...

If all goes according to schedule, piloted operations of the Orion could begin as early as 2016, Lockheed Martin says.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-23-2011 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert's link to the original article doesn't clarify a key question. The article points out that Orion was originally due to be launched on the Ares 1 booster, but doesn't mention what booster will be used for the 2013 orbital test, the subsequent abort test, or the first manned flight in 2016. Did I read somewhere else that the test-flight will be on a Delta IV Heavy, or an Atlas V? What is the intended launch-vehicle when Orion has a crew?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 04-23-2011 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As noted earlier, Lockheed has reserved a Delta IV Heavy for its 2013 test flight.

For crewed flights, Orion is to be paired with the Space Launch System heavy-lift booster as called for by Congress. Lockheed has also talked about man-rating Delta IV Heavy for Orion as well.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-24-2011 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aha! Thanks, Robert, that must be the source I was thinking about.

But to develop this point: is the planned heavy-lift rocket solely intended for Orion missions beyond LEO? Would it not to an example of "overkill" if used to send Orion to the ISS? And if solely (or at least primarily) intended for missions beyond LEO, just how many such mission options exist?

I certainly like the idea of an asteroid mission ("Plymouth Rock" or any other feasible option) but that will only account for one or two missions per decade at most. Where else is Orion supposed to go beyond LEO? lagrange points? Not such an exciting prospect and again surely only one or two flights in a decade. Where else? Any ideas anyone? Oh come on...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-24-2011 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Orion isn't intended to service the ISS. Should commercial crew and cargo efforts fail in that regard, Orion could be used, but that is not why it is being developed.

Orion is being built to support missions beyond low Earth orbit. The ultimate goal is Mars, but asteroids, the Lagrange points and the Moon are all being looked at by NASA.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-24-2011 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh yes, the Moon... never would have thought of that! But seriously, once Orion and the heavy-lift are ready and operational, I find it hard to believe that thoughts won't return to the Moon. It's going to be a long time before NASA is ready to go to Mars, and trips to near-Earth asteroids and the Lagrange points would hardly justify a production-line of heavy-lifts. If Orion isn't to be a taxi to the ISS, then it needs a destination. No point in having it without a near-term destination. Now if Europe or Japan provides a lunar lander...

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