Although the space shuttle is still a technical marvel, the fleet is aging and has become increasingly expensive to operate. Recent problems with foam insulation have exposed crews to danger, rendered it unsafe to fly, and caused NASA to ground the entire fleet. NASA needs a vehicle that is capable of carrying crew and payloads to Earth orbit, the moon and Mars. With future exploration in mind, NASA is designing a new vehicle.
NASA's new spaceship, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, will actually consist of two ships:
- The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) will transport four to six astronauts.
- The Cargo Launch Vehicle (CLV) will lift heavy payloads and astronauts when necessary.
The Orion will use proven technologies from the Apollo and space shuttle programs. They will also be safer and more versatile for long-term space exploration.
In this article, we'll examine the concept and technology behind the Orion and learn how it will help us explore the moon and beyond.