- Parabolic Arc
- September 26, 2023
The Incredibly Shrinking Orion/MPCV Program
Lockheed Martin has cut out an entire test article from the Orion crew exploration vehicle that it is recasting in a new role as deep-space Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), combining test objectives for the remaining articles in an effort to keep the vehicle within the tight schedule set by Congress.
By combining the tests that will be conducted with particular test articles, the company plans to send an Orion capsule into orbit on its first test flight in 2013, according to Cleon Lacefield, the companyâ€™s program manager. The first capsule produced is now being prepared for ground tests at company facilities here and once those are over, it will be reinstrumented to fly on the first ascent abort test in 2014.
By dropping the test article originally intended for that evaluation â€” which is intended to validate the ability of the vehicleâ€™s solid-fuel escape tower to pull it off a failing launch vehicle at maximum dynamic pressure during ascent â€” the company has been able to start work on the test capsule that will fly to space for the first time.
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Editor’s Note: By Congressional decision, this vehicle is getting $1.2 billion in NASA’s budget for this year alone. That should be enough to keep the program moving along. It’s far more than any of the commercial crew projects is receiving, although admittedly the Orion/MPCV is being designed for longer and more rigorous missions.