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NASA Space Science

NASA's Orion Moon Craft Unveiled 179

Velcroman1 writes "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."
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NASA's Orion Moon Craft Unveiled

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  • by Revotron ( 1115029 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:22PM (#35576582)
    Excuse me... would you mind telling me where the "dig" is at the President?

    The only passage I see that references our President is "Orion and the companion Ares heavy-lift rocket were part of Constellation, a program cancelled under President Barack Obama's 2011 budget proposal."

    That is a statement of fact. It is in no way biased, skewed or twisted. It's just about as plain a statement as one can make.

    But I guess it must be hard to notice these details when you've got to read over such a highly-held nose.
  • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:25PM (#35576644)
    I suggest that everybody read about Orion at the Lockheed Martin Website [].

    I highly recommend this video [].
  • by Loadmaster ( 720754 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:35PM (#35576794)

    Project Orion will never be revived. However, use of nuclear power may still live in VASIMR technology. The prototype is supposed to go up this year but we'll see. If it works as planned it's a game changer for in-space travel. Unlike most revolutionary technology companies Ad Astra is actually helmed by an ex-astronaut with an actual Ph.D. VASIMR technology comes from Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz's MIT thesis.

    It is a huge year for SpaceX, Ad Astra, and spaceflight in general this year. []

  • by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:36PM (#35576810)

    Here's an interesting link about many of the nuclear propulsion systems over the years: []

  • misunderstanding (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @02:59PM (#35577200) Homepage Journal
    The Orion capsule is intended to be the baseline for both missions.
  • Re:Back to Apollo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @03:43PM (#35577988) Homepage Journal
    Capsules are an extremely capable form factor when talking about spacecraft. When something is orbiting a gravity well in a vacuum or near vacuum, the geometry of that thing has some very powerful effects on the design of the system in general. Capsule are nice in that they are symmetric about one axis. This makes controlling and pointing them very easy. If you take a geometry like that of the space shuttle, the control problems become much more difficult. Those large wings and that vertical stabilizer act as moment arms about your roll axis. Any forces that act upon those moment arms turn into large, asymmetrical torques (these forces can be due to atmospheric drag, radiation gradients, thermal gradients, micro-meteor impacts, etc.). Damping out the increase in angular momentum due to torques applied to such large moment arms requires more powerful, more massive, more power-hungry momentum exchange devices (like reaction wheels, CMG's whatever). Thus, such a clunky geometric design puts some heavy restrictions on your system design space.

    Now, if you take a form factor like the capsule, you find that you don't have those giant moment arms (save for the solar arrays which, if designed properly, should go a long way in canceling out each other's torques). What's more, you have a nice aerodynamic shape that can reenter atmospheres much more elegantly than, say a brick with wings bolted on. All in all, the capsule is a beautifully elegant design that solves many of the difficult space-environment design problems through passive geometry, rather than through more active systems like large control mechanisms or expensive ceramic tiles.

    Just because a design is 40 years old doesn't mean it's poor. The car is the same form factor that it was back when it was design in the early 1900's, but that's because there is a lot to be said for a 4-wheel base vehicle. That doesn't mean all cars are the same as the Model T though.

    Finally, you should probably realize that The Orion was built and designed by Lockheed-Martin, not NASA.
  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @04:03PM (#35578296)

    Chemical rockets are a dead end. They will never be able to put large amounts of supplies into orbit and will never be fast enough of interplanetary distances to be practical as anything more than an interesting diversion. The failure I am referring to is the failure to recognize this and invest money, time, and effort into alternatives. NASA successfully test fired a nuclear powered rocket that as a drop in replacement for on the Saturn V would have improved it's payload by 4x, using technology from the '60s. And then the funding dried up for anything experimental or paradigm shifting and we've been stuck on chemical rockets which have no hope of actually accomplishing any of the long term goals of the manned space program.

    Perhaps it isn't a failure of the agency, they do, after all, get their funding and many of their mission statements from congress. But I have never heard about a high ranking NASA spokesman going to congress and saying "We need money for advanced, non-chemical launch technologies".

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @04:19PM (#35578504)

    Energy density of H2: 39,000 Wh/kg (actually lower because this doesn't include an oxidizer.
    Energy density of Fission of U-235: 25,000,000,000 (of course lower, because you need support machinery)

    Pretty clear we aren't quite at the limits of our energy sources using today's launch technologies.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson