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Space Vehicle Orion Passes Systems Requirement Review

By | March 12, 2007

      NASA set a requirements baseline for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, meaning the future spacecraft completed its system requirements review, NASA reported.

      The space agency last year gave Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] a contract to develop the Orion space vehicle that will carry humans to the moon, and later to Mars.

      The review marked the first major milestone in the Orion engineering process and provided the foundation for design, development, construction and safe operation of the spacecraft that will carry explorers to Earth orbit, to the moon, and eventually to Mars.

      While President Bush has enunciated a vision of journeying to the moon, Mars and beyond, Orion may not be used for solar systems trips beyond Mars, because they would launch so many years hence that advanced technologies likely would have emerged by then for a newer type of spacecraft, a NASA spokesman said.

      The detailed requirements established in the review will serve as the basis for ongoing design analysis work and systems testing.

      “This is a significant step in the development of a space transportation system that will expand our horizons to include other worlds,” said Skip Hatfield, Orion project manager at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

      The Orion review followed an overall review of requirements for the Constellation Program that was completed in November. Similar reviews are planned later this spring for ground and mission operations systems that will support Constellation launch systems and space flight operations ground infrastructure.

      “We have now completed program-wide launch vehicle and human spacecraft system requirements reviews,” said Jeff Hanley, Constellation program manager. “These are important pieces of a management and engineering puzzle that will allow us to accomplish the goal of putting humans back on the moon.”

      The Orion requirements data set was reviewed by agency and contractor scientists and engineers from across the country. More than 1,700 topics covering all aspects of vehicle performance, design and qualification were discussed during the course of the formal review.

      Once all project-level reviews are complete, the Constellation Program will hold another full review to update baseline requirements. A lunar architecture systems review of equipment associated with surface exploration and science activities on the moon is expected in the spring of 2009.

      NASA later this year will choose the contractor to build the Ares lifter rocket to boost the Orion vehicle into space.

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