NASA’s Orion Unveiled

NASA Orion
The Lockheed Martin Orion team at NASAs Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La., inspects the Orion crew module ground test structure prior to shipping. From there, the spacecraft was shipped to Lockheed Martins Denver facilities to be integrated with an encapsulating aeroshell to provide thermal protection before undergoing rigorous testing to verify it can withstand the harsh environments of a deep space mission. The aeroshell will complete the exterior of the spacecraft, as depicted in the hanging banner displayed in the upper left.

NASA has unveiled all their hardwork, that is until the project was cancelled by Obama.

FoxNews report:

Lockheed Martin on Tuesday unveiled the first Orion spacecraft, a part of what NASA had planned as the sprawlingly ambitious Constellation project that would offer a replacement for the space shuttle — and a means to ferry humans into outer space and back to the moon.

Orion and the companion Ares heavy-lift rocket were part of Constellation, a program cancelled under President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposal. Instead Obama urged NASA to work toward sending humans to an asteroid and then on to Mars. Reports indicated NASA intended Orion to be merely a crew-escape vehicle. 

But NASA and Lockheed Martin had other plans for the project, and pushed ahead on the Orion space capsule despite their ambiguous status.

Tuesday Lockheed Martin showed off the fruits of its labor — and it’s far more ambitious than a crew-rescue ship. 

“Our nation’s next bold step in exploration could begin by 2016,” said John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin’s Human Space Flight programs. “Orion was designed from inception to fly multiple, deep-space missions. The spacecraft is an incredibly robust, technically advanced vehicle capable of safely transporting humans to asteroids, Lagrange Points and other deep space destinations that will put us on an affordable and sustainable path to Mars.”

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin pointed to NASA’s latest authorization act, from Oct. 11, 2010, which underscores the wide role the Orion craft could play. 

“Orion is going to evolve from what it was under the previous Constellation program into what it needs to become as part of the multipurpose crew vehicle,” NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs told the Associated Press.

Orion includes a module for crew and cargo, a service module for propulsion, electrical power and other requirements, and a launch-abort system to carry the capsule to safety if the booster rocket fails. NASA successfully tested the launch-abort system two weeks ago at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

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