Monday, September 12, 2011

New U.S. Space Capsule 'Orion' Now Being Built

I hesitate to call the new U.S. spacecraft, 'Orion,' a spaceship because, well, it's not actually a ship. It's actually a capsule, much like the capsules we used four decades ago.

Only this one is bigger with better technology.

Work began just last week on a new Orion capsule which will actually be launched into space. At the same time some Congressional officials have started blasting the Obama Administration for attempting to "kill off" the NASA manned space program by balking at the estimated $60+ billion price tag (total funds invested by 2025).

One thing is certain, without a spaceship of some sort the United States is in real danger of losing its superiority when it comes to space technology. In fact, you would be right in saying that because we have no way of getting supplies or crew to the International Space Station we have ALREADY lost our superiority.

Hopefully this is only a temporary problem; a hiccup in the long great race to space. The Orion space capsule is expected to make flight sometime in the next year or so. If all goes well American astronauts could once again (soon) be heading for the stars....

NASA already has spent about $5 billion on the Orion capsule, which could fly unmanned in 2017 for another $6 billion, plus $0.7 billion for full-cost accounting. The “21st Century Ground Systems” Congress ordered for the new vehicle would cost about $2 billion, plus a $0.4 billion full-cost escalator.

In the report it based on those figures, Booz Allen found NASA’s long-term SLS estimates through 2025 “optimistic” and based on unrealistic assumptions. But it found the agency’s near-term estimates adequate.

Disclosure of the numbers Booz Allen used in its outside analysis of the reference design Bolden selected triggered an uproar from Senate backers of the SLS.

“Rather than announce these results and move forward with development, the administration’s budget office has kept the independent cost report under wraps,” Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) complained in a Sept. 8 press release. “Instead, a wildly inflated set of NASA cost numbers was invented, based on an imaginary ‘acceleration’ of SLS development.”

The release referred to a Wall Street Journal article published the day before that cited what the senators termed was a “leaked” NASA document dated Aug. 19 with figures that went as high as $62.5 billion to build and operate SLS through 2015.

“No one has proposed to accelerate development,” Hutchison and Nelson wrote in the release, which was headlined as a “statement on the administration’s campaign to undermine America’s manned space program,” by the lawmakers.

Click here to read the entire article from AviationWeek.com.



Want to read about the original "Project Orion"? Check this out:

1 comment:

SpaceShuttleAlmanac said...

There are several, some have more favourtism by NASA than others, the CST-100 got the OPF-3 at KSC and heavier funding, kinda implies NASA favours it over others.

Thats my opinion

Lee Brandon-Cremer
www.spaceshuttlealmanac.com