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Orion (CEV → MPCV)

Orion Block-1A [NASA]

Project Constellation's Orion (formely CEV - Crewed Exploration Vehicle) was to be a manned spacecraft for low earth orbit missions to ISS, missions to the moon and eventually to Mars.

CEV was be a capsule design, which inherited its shape from the Apollo capsule, but will otherwise a completly new construction. It was to launched on a Ares-1 launcher derived from Space Shuttle technology. In contrast to Apollo, landing was to be on land, assisted by air-bags or retro-rockets.

Originally, three versions were planned:

  • The Orion Block-1 version was to be used for flights to the ISS for delivering crew of three astronauts and 400 kg cargo or a crew of six and no cargo.
  • The Orion Block-1B version is an unmanned deriavtive and was to be used to transport supplies to the ISS and bring material back to earth. This version could bring 3500 kg of cargo in the pressurised capsule to the station. This version was cancelled in 2006.
  • The Orion Block-2 version wass designed for lunar missions and could support four astronauts. These Orion capsules were to dock in low earth orbit with the separately launched Altair (LSAM) lunar landers and were to be propelled to lunar transfer orbit by the EDS (Earth Departure Stage), which was to be launched with the Altair on an Ares-5 launcher

In February 2010, the development of the Ares-1 launch vehicle was cancelled and the development of Orion was reduced to a lifeboat for the ISS.

After the Constellation was cancelled, the Orion capsule was renamed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). It will serve as a vehicle for lunar and interplanetary missions. The LEO missions to ISS will instead be flown on commercial vehicles.

Currently an unmanned testflight of a Orion capsule called Orion-EFT 1 launched by a Delta-4H rocket in late 2014 is planned.

In late 2012 a cooperation with ESA was initiated. Under this project a new Orion-MPCV with European service module will be developed.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Manned spacecraft
Operator: NASA
Contractors: Lockheed Martin
Equipment:
Configuration:
Propulsion: OME (AJ10-190)
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 180 days
Mass:
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Orion 1 - 2017 CCK LC-39B SLS (Block 1) iCPS Orion-MPCV 1
Orion 2 - 2018 CCK LC-39B SLS (Block 1) iCPS Orion-MPCV 2
Further Orion (CEV) missions: