Stories tagged Ares

Sep
21
2006

Orion Launch: The Orion crew vehicle launches on board the Ares I launch vehicle.  Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin Corp.
Orion Launch: The Orion crew vehicle launches on board the Ares I launch vehicle. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin Corp.

A new space capsule and launch system are being developed to bring the next generation of explorers to the International Space Station, back to the moon, and later to Mars. The new Orion space capsule and Ares launch system will be the long awaited replacement for the Space Shuttle and are scheduled to begin use by 2014.

A throw-back design

The Orion capsule borrows its design from the Apollo-era space capsules, and improves on the best features of Apollo and the Space Shuttle programs, but is significantly larger than the old Apollo spacecraft and utilizes the latest technology in computers, electronics, life support, safety, propulsion and heat protection systems.
Orion will be capable of transporting cargo and up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. In addition, it will return humans to the moon to stay for long periods as NASA prepares for the longer journey to and an extended stay on Mars.

Orion in Lunar Orbit: Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin Corp.
Orion in Lunar Orbit: Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin Corp.

Safer manned space flight

The new capsule and launch system will be significantly safer than the Space Shuttle because the design allows for an “escape tower” at the top of the capsule that allows for the separation of the crew capsule from the rocket below in the event of an emergency during launch. Further, there is minimal chance of debris damage as the capsule sits on top of the rocket.

To watch a video about the Orion and Ares systems, go here.