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NASA Space

Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight 135

gilgsn writes "Preparations for Orion's first mission in 2013 are well under way as a Lockheed Martin-led crew begins lean assembly pathfinding operations for the spacecraft. The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures work as expected."
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Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight

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  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @06:11PM (#33656262) Journal

    Have reports of the program's demise been exaggerated?

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh ( 1318603 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @06:27PM (#33656434)

    Hmmm, the link looks like it has been slashdotted, but since it says "archives," it might not even be the right one. Maybe they meant this one? []

    As inspiring as the STS program was, it's time to move on. Thinking about a craft that weighs several thousand tons being used to move crew and cargo into space on the same ride just doesn't make sense. We can send an unmanned cargo ship into orbit quite easily, without needing all of the protection that a "human cargo" would require. Having a tiny Orion spacecraft bring the people makes a lot more sense.

    How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm? Perhaps it was because of the difficulty in providing unmanned vessels that made it to the specified destination, or perhaps it was because the Gemini and Apollo astronauts really hated being compared to the "chimp in a suit" and forced NASA's to put people on every ship.

    I'll just be glad when I see something smaller than a double-wide mobile home being used to ferry the humans into space.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @06:58PM (#33656646) Homepage Journal
    Well to be fair, in the myths you are referring to, Orion is the best hunter that ever lived according to the Greeks. He died by scorpion sting in most variants of the myth due to either boasting about his hunting abilities, or threatening to kill every beast on the surface of the Earth because he was such a great hunter. As such, various gods (usually Artemis or Gaia) designed the scorpion (either giant or tiny, depending on the variant of the myth) to prevent him from doing just that. So the only reason Orion was killed by a scorpion (in the variants where he is killed by a Scorpion) was because he was too much of a bad ass for the gods to risk leaving alive. I'd say that's a pretty cool reputation to have.

    Besides, Orion is one of the most prominent and all around epic constellations in the night sky. I'd say the name has plenty of good publicity going for it. Besides, even the movie company you listed produced quite a few good films (Silence of the Lambs, Terminator etc.)
  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:49PM (#33657636) Homepage

    I totally want them to make a Footfall movie and really use a Project Orion craft. Usually they just have a technobabble solution for how the humans beat the aliens, but in that case you didn't need to use technobabble. The humans really did have a big stick, they were going to kick your ass, and there wasn't anything you were going to be doing about it. []

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @12:59AM (#33659104) Journal
    The ISS could have been done with four or five Saturn launches instead of the 40+ shuttle launches it has taken so far, and the thing isn't even finished.
  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:26AM (#33660684) Homepage Journal

    If you can define man-rated, I'll bite here. Both the Delta IV and the Atlas V have enough thrust to place a capsule like the Orion up into orbit, or at least a manned vehicle.

    I should also point out that it was an Atlas launcher (admittedly a predecessor to the current Atlas V) that has already seen service in the manned spaceflight program for NASA: It put John Glenn into orbit! Seriously, the argument that these vehicles aren't man-rated is overblown and isn't even a realistic argument here.

    If you are willing to trust sending into orbit billion dollar payloads that represent a million man-hours of effort or more, that is something that at least exceeds the safety margin given for Shuttle launches and is likely to be better. There may need to be some minor tweaks to finish any honest assessment to make these vehicles man-rated, but that is very trivial compared to what is needed to get a brand-new launcher up to speed and rated for carrying astronauts. The NRO wouldn't have been sending their satellites up on these launchers if they weren't reliable.

  • by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @09:14AM (#33661112)
    Hey, the customer is always right. Even if NASA doesn't get a right to define what 'man rated' means by rule of law they still have the choice to buy or not to buy. SpaceX has to build to NASA's requirements because if they do not someone else will. I suppose the FAA could add to the requirements if they wanted to but if both agencies published requirements then SpaceX would have to meet both, not ignore their customer (NASA). They can't just build what they want to build and then expect NASA to be obligated to buy it from them. I suppose there are other customers out there but not so many they can afford to lose NASA. As for the FAA I don't think they would bother, NASA has been doing this for a while without them already. Plus, I think it's only within their jurisdiction until it reaches a certain height anyway. If the Senate bill goes through NASA will not be competing with SpaceX or any of the other commercial companies. Instead NASA will be focused on heavy lift rockets and getting beyond low Earth orbit. If they are doing that then dealing with building another orbiter would be a distraction at best. I'm sure those writing the checkes would be happy to just pay SpaceX or whomever else shows up and be done with it. Now... if the House version of the NASA appropriation bill goes through then things will get strange. NASA would be stuck building another orbiter and buying from SpaceX. Heavy lift and exploration beyond low Earth orbit would get sidelined for another generation or two. I hope that bill dies.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.