Major milestone for Orion Project

NASA has established a requirements baseline for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, bringing America‘s next human spacecraft a step closer to construction.

The Orion Project completed its system requirements review in cooperation with its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, on 1 March. 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. The detailed requirements established in this 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 NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

The Orion review followed an overall review of requirements for the Constellation Programme 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 programme-wide launch vehicle and human spacecraft system requirements reviews,’ said Constellation Programme Manager Jeff Hanley. ‘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.’

Scientists and engineers from across the US reviewed the Orion requirements data set. They discussed more than 1,700 topics covering all aspects of vehicle performance, design and qualification during the course of the formal review.

Once all project-level reviews are complete, the Constellation Programme 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.