Orion (spacecraft)

The Orion CEV spacecraft (formerly only as a Crew Exploration Vehicle ( CEV) referred to ) is a concept of NASA for a manned spacecraft. This was designed as part of the Constellation program and the ESAS study and partially developed and should transporting cargo and people to the ISS, the Moon serve ( in analogy to the spaceship Apollo) and Mars ( as a spaceship shuttle and landing). Due to the Augustine Commission in 2009 and the cancellation of funding for the Constellation program, the continuation of the concept is uncertain.

The name of the spaceship was announced by mistake before the officially scheduled release of the located at this time in space astronaut Jeffrey Williams and subsequently confirmed by NASA. The name was chosen on the basis of one of the brightest constellations, which was also used for navigation, the constellation Orion.

Original planning

The development was divided into so-called spiral phases.

  • Exploration Spiral 1 (CEV Earth Orbit Capability ): development of a manned spacecraft for use in low earth orbit by 2014 in preparation for the flight to the moon.
  • Exploration Spiral 2 (Extended Lunar Exploration ): landing and subsequent stay of man on the moon for at least four days (2015 to 2020).
  • Exploration Spiral 3 ( Long Duration Lunar Exploration ): Prolonged (up to several months ) lunar missions, which will serve as a test for future Mars flights ( after 2020 ).
  • Exploration Spiral 4 ( Crew Transportation System Mars Flyby ): flybys of Mars ( after 2020 ).
  • Exploration Spiral 5 (Human Mars Surface Campaign ): Manned Mars landing ( after 2020 ).

The CEV was located since 2004 in the design phase. In 2005, the design concepts of the industry were handed over to NASA, then NASA selected the concepts from Lockheed Martin and from a team made ​​up of Northrop Grumman and Boeing for development of. Originally they wanted to fund these two concepts in 2008, with 2008 an unmanned test flight would take place with prototypes of both spacecraft. According to the results of the development and test flights should be decided which approach should be pursued.

Later, however, NASA announced to strive for the operational readiness of the CEV already for 2010. So they wanted to keep the gap between the end of the shuttle program and the beginning of the CEV flights as short as possible or even avoid it altogether. Therefore, and in order to save money, the follow-up of two projects was canceled, as was the test flight of unmanned models of the spaceship. In November 2005, NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study ( ESAS ) issued, which clarifies the requirements and mission profiles for the CEV. On 31 August 2006, NASA announced that Lockheed Martin has been selected to build the Orion spacecraft.

NASA planned to carry out the development of the Orion spacecraft according to the following schedule:

  • 2011 - First unmanned flight of the spacecraft into orbit.
  • 2014 - First manned flight into orbit.
  • 2014 - First unmanned flight of the moon ship.
  • 2015 - First manned flight of the lunar ship.
  • 2018 - First manned lunar landing of the lunar ship.


Beginning of May 2005 were known to the project proposed by Lockheed Martin details. This project saw the development of a space shuttle with carrying fuselage ( engl. Lifting Body) for four to six astronauts, who should be shot on top of a conventional carrier rocket into space. The landing is done with the help of parachutes and airbags. Parts of the space ship should be able to be reused. In a lunar mission, a mission modules and a Propulsion Module would also be added to the fuel and the engines are started with its own launcher and later dock with the CEV. The complete Mondzug consisting of the CEV, the mission modules and the Propulsion Module to about 40 tonnes.

Since the publication of the ESAS study Lockheed has the lifting -body approach discarded and also submitted a concept that is based on a landing capsule. About the warped concept of Boeing it is only known that it was from the beginning a landing capsule approach, which held very closely to the ideas of the ESAS documents.

The era from President Obama

Due to the announcement by President Obama at the beginning of 2010, no longer support the Constellation program, the continuation of the Orion concept and their development is uncertain. In January 2011, NASA submitted a report to Congress, which provides a proposal of task fulfillment with respect to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The reference concept for the passenger transport system (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) provides for the NASA Orion design. If Congress adopt the proposal, the Orion concept for the new space plans of the USA to sell to 2025 people on an asteroid could be used. The technological development is carried out under the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Project.


Start an Orion spaceship with an Ares -1 rocket ( NASA study, February 2008)

Orion spacecraft docked to the Altair lunar lander and the Earth Departure Stage ( FEIS, February 2008)

Demonstration of the command module in the Langley Research Center

Test of activities in a water landing

Transport of the heat shield in a Super Guppy