Orion Still Overweight; Review Slips Two Months

NASA’s preliminary design review (PDR) for its new Orion spacecraft has slipped two months as engineers continue to work through one minor little problem: the capsule is too heavy for the Ares I rocket to launch to orbit.

NASA Space Flight reports that engineers are hoping to deal with the system’s negative-mass-to-orbit problem in order to conduct the PDR in November. Weight and performance problems have long dogged the agency’s Apollo-style capsule and shuttle-derived booster.

Quoting an internal NASA document, the website says that the slip in the PDR will ripple through Orion’s schedule. The Critical Design Review will slip more than six months from September 25, 2009 to April 2, 2010. However, the agency expects the Design Certification Review to slip only two months from mid-January to March 2013.

NASA Spaceflight also reports that engineers are trying to work out scenarios for astronauts to survive up to 36 hours should Orion land in the ocean far from assistance.