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  [Discuss] NASA's Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] NASA's Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-24-2011 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle focused on status updates, readers' feedback and opinions have been moved to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss the MPCV as NASA develops its next generation crewed spacecraft.

ilbasso
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posted 05-24-2011 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Timelines?

I find it interesting that this chart on the NASA MPCV site doesn't show anything beyond FY2011.

cspg
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posted 05-24-2011 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And what about the launcher?

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-24-2011 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's really new with this announcement beyond a retraction of the dubious proposition that Orion was only going to serve as a CRV?

Rather then stick with Constellation and working to secure an appropriate level of funding, the previous 2.5 years have been underpinned by disjointed and poorly articulated policy that has done nothing but further delay America's inevitable return to the lunar surface.

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-24-2011 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
And what about the launcher?

Why would the launcher be announced? There is still that mess which has to be sorted out as Congressional laws have tied up what NASA supposedly can and can't do when it comes to hardware for selecting a new launcher.

At least one thing that will potentially provide a benefit is that while the spacecraft formerly known as Orion is further along in development, the weight issues should be more well known and as such, a new launch vehicle design may not have to deal with the inevitable weight growths of spacecraft design as much. This may help cut down development time (or just allow that time to be used on other issues).

cspg
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posted 05-25-2011 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The spacecraft will carry four astronauts for 21-day missions and be able to land in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
The Atlantic is "no-go"?

cspg
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posted 05-25-2011 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
Why would the launcher be announced?
Because the launcher is part of a space exploration policy (or lack thereof as pointed out by SpaceAholic). MPCV is good for Moon missions but there's no lander; a Heavy Lift launcher is to be developed but no one seems to know what would it be used for...

ilbasso
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posted 05-25-2011 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another question is, what kind of meaningful deep space mission could you do in the 21-day design life of the vehicle? You'd need a pretty hefty boost out of Earth's gravity well, and a way to decelerate quickly (you can't use an asteroid's gravity to capture the spacecraft) for a mission to the closest asteroids. Or, without a lander, what could a manned vehicle do in lunar orbit that an unmanned orbiter can't do?

I'm afraid we've got a vehicle without a launcher or a destination at present.

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-25-2011 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I imagine 21 days would be the maximum time the spacecraft could be activated. If shut down (such as docked to the ISS) it could be kept in hybernation much longer. Plus, this likely would be the first production version. Once the sheet metal gets bent and the thing is far along in development, work can continue on a longer duration version of the craft.

One also can consider that if the craft were docked with a longer duration habitation module of some sort that the astronauts can live in during a flight to an asteroid, the CM itself can be saved for when it is needed (undocking, reentry and landing).

The biggest limiting factor in any spacecraft design is how many consumables it can carry for its size of crew. Oxygen tanks lose pressure overtime and if fuel cells are used, their consumables get used up as well. That was one of the reasons why NASA went with more storage batteries and less fuel cells in the Skylab versions of the Apollo CSMs.

The booster question will be sorted out eventually, but some hard decisions have to be made. Does NASA go with one common booster for crew and cargo or do they go with two like Constellation. Do they try and develop a fully capable booster now or do they go with an interim one? Do they go with solids, liquids or a combination? By comparison, the spacecraft is a somewhat easy choice to make as it keeps things moving (albeit slowly, but still moving).

SpaceAholic
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posted 05-25-2011 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
One also can consider that if the craft were docked with a longer duration habitation module of some sort that the astronauts can live in during a flight to an asteroid, the CM itself can be saved for when it is needed (undocking, reentry and landing).
Very few NEO's (and certainly not Mars) fall within the envelope of the CEV's 210 day endurance. Maybe something that will be addressed in subsequent iterations of the MPCV but not the case with existing design.

Blackarrow
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posted 05-25-2011 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
MPCV is good for Moon missions but there's no lander

Seems like a perfect time for Europe, or Japan, or even Russia, to say: "Hey, NASA, what if we build a lunar lander?"

cspg
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posted 06-14-2011 01:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We're all broke, remember?

Would Moody's and Standard & Poor approve such expenditures?

Fra Mauro
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posted 06-14-2011 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If we are broke there are many places to cut before NASA (less than 1% of the Fed Budget).

Tykeanaut
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posted 06-14-2011 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I gather that the proposed Orion (MPCV) crew vehicle would only be used once each time, like Apollo.

Why couldn't it be re-coated with ablative heat material, etc. and put back into service for another launch?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2011 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Orion CEV was originally proposed as reusable, in large part because it would land on land. For weight and other considerations, the MPCV is now being designed to splashdown.

Still NASA/Lockheed plans to reuse about 40 percent of the individual capsules' components between flights.

Fra Mauro
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posted 07-08-2011 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Giving this vehicle program name would make it a bit more interesting from a P.R. standard.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-08-2011 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has said they will focus on the name after the budget questions and remaining technical details are worked out. For now, it is known as MPCV Orion.

(The introduction of MPCV as a title was the result of congressional action, not something that NASA initiated.)

Fra Mauro
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posted 07-27-2011 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is nice to see! A little bit reminiscent of the Apollo tests.

LM-12
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posted 08-16-2011 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How does the MPCV Orion compare in size to the Apollo Command Module? Has anyone seen a side-by-side diagram of both vehicles for comparison?

DJS
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posted 09-05-2011 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DJS   Click Here to Email DJS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anybody know the latest news on the MPCV? Is there any idea of when it will be operational?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2011 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Construction began today on the first Orion MPCV to be used for an orbital flight test (OFT). The test is currently targeted for mid-2013.

LM-12
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posted 07-11-2012 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
How does the MPCV Orion compare in size to the Apollo Command Module?
This NASASpaceflight.com article has a diagram comparing both capsules.

apolloprojeckt
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posted 07-22-2012 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for apolloprojeckt   Click Here to Email apolloprojeckt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw today that drop test out of a plane, it looks of the shape of the capsule has change or I have it wrong?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-22-2012 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The parachute drop-test that you saw, uses an Orion boilerplate that is designed to mimic the size, weight and flight characteristics of the real spacecraft, but the differences between it and the production Orion capsules is not indicative of a change to the spacecraft.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 11-27-2012 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the Orion crew module hatch design similar to the Apollo Block II unified design or some different design?

SpaceAholic
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posted 02-12-2013 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Orion's parachutes will perform in ways no landing system for a spacecraft carrying humans has been required to do before.
Given that Orion's ELS is essentially a scaled up analog of that used onboard the Apollo CM, the statement is a bit of an embellishment.

Lou Chinal
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posted 02-12-2013 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to agree. It's going to float in mode I or mode II. The third option is going to float on the bottom of the ocean.

328KF
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posted 02-12-2013 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Too funny... so Liberty Bell 7 was the first "Mode 3" landing, huh?

SpaceAngel
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posted 06-30-2013 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just curious, will the Orion spacecraft make any visits to the International Space Station?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-30-2013 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are no plans at current for Orion to visit the space station. The flights scheduled include:
  • Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1): unmanned, high-apogee Earth orbit (September 2014)
  • Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1): unmanned, circumlunar (2017)
  • Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2): manned, circumlunar or to a captured asteroid (2021)

dabolton
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posted 07-05-2013 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am looking forward to the ultra-high resolution video that will accompany the circumlunar missions. Presumably running 24 hours a day.

Fra Mauro
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posted 08-16-2013 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone read NASA's Office of Inspector General's report (PDF) on the progress of Orion? There are some serious topics raised.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-17-2013 07:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The report focuses primarily on how Orion's development is being funded. And while the OIG raises concerns, it does not make any specific recommendations for corrective action. From spacetoday.net's summary:
A report by NASA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) this week warned that a flat funding profile for the agency's new crew vehicle could result in delays in its development. The OIG report concluded that the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle faces those delays since its development is being funded at a steady level of about $1 billion per year, rather than in a more classical "bell curve" funding profile for new programs. Some tests of the Orion have been pushed back, including a test of the vehicle's abort system that has been delayed four years to 2018. Those issues could also create cost overruns for the program as well. The flat future budgets projected for Orion, and NASA in general, also mean that development of other systems to enable crews flying on Orion missions to land on planetary bodies would be deferred until some time in the 2020s.

star61
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posted 09-27-2013 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Still can't get my head around these time lines. Another 8 years before a crewed flight!

How was it ever possible to go from a Mercury sub-orbital lob to "The Eagle as landed" in the same time frame? I know we have been here before and debated it to death, but it is a truly shocking indictment of political and social vision.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-27-2013 10:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by star61:
...but it is a truly shocking indictment of political and social vision.
Why is it an indictment? The Cold War is over, there is no real need for gov't manage spaceflight to the extent of Apollo (and I say not at all).

KSCartist
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posted 09-28-2013 03:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While there is a "somewhat painful" gap in manned launches from the USA, there is no gap in manned spaceflight.

It might be 8 years for a manned Orion mission, but there might only be three or four years for the next manned launch aboard a Dragon, Dream Chaser or CST-100.

Yes, for those of us who witnessed the first space race, this progress seems so slow. But because of what has been accomplished, there is a very real possibility of space tourism and I believe that fact alone will help increase support for the larger government funded deep space exploration in our future.

star61
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posted 09-29-2013 11:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This circumstances we are in goes back to decisions made during the Cold War. The political and apparent social malaise with regard to spaceflight is not a 21st century phenomenon.

And with respect, I would argue that manned spaceflight is/was one of more important things that any government should be involved in. It may be the true meaning of "economic value" evades politicians, but if that were the only basis for government involvement it would be good enough.

Ronpur
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posted 09-29-2013 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think anyone around here would argue that manned spaceflight is very important. And, yes convincing politicians of the benefits is next to impossible, unless it will help them get re-elected.

I am sure Orion could fly sooner, if there were unlimited funds from congress. Now, I fear it may be delayed as they have to spread out the funding even thinner.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-29-2013 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by star61:
And with respect, I would argue that manned spaceflight is/was one of more important things that any government should be involved in.
Was is the key word.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-29-2013 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ronpur:
I don't think anyone around here would argue that manned spaceflight is very important.
For what?


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