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August 11, 2008

Orion launch date slips to September 2014

Posted: 04:54 PM ET

In a set-back to NASA's efforts to fly the successor to the space shuttle sooner rather than later, the space agency announced a launch slip Monday for Orion, the next generation manned spacecraft currently under development.

Ares V rocket launches as part of the Constellation Program. Source: NASA

"September 2014 is when we are saying we will launch the first crew on the Orion," said program manager Jeff Hanley during a conference call to brief reporters on the delay.

Cost concerns are at the root of the slip – as well as giving themselves wiggle room to deal with the unforeseen technical problems that will inevitably crop up.

"It's the unknown unknowns that we have to hedge against," said Hanley. "Having some number of months of schedule flexibility to meet our commitment, in addition to having some number of months of cost - dollars - flexibility, is key to keeping ourselves in a healthy posture."

NASA officials plan to wrap up assembly of the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet in 2010, freeing up money to build and fly the new spacecraft. Sometimes called "Apollo on steroids," Orion is designed to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS, and eventually to the moon. Unlike the space shuttle, which lands like an airplane, Orion is a capsule that will parachute to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The new September 2014 date is actually a self-imposed, internal deadline for NASA - the true commitment date for the first flight as set by Congress is March 2015. NASA managers were hoping to fly the new vehicle much sooner than that to keep the gap between the last shuttle flight and the first Orion flight to a minimum. Most recently, September 2013 was NASA's goal. But program managers now admit that target date is unachievable.

"As we looked at the plan we had for Sept. 2013 against the available dollars it became clear to us that we needed to adjust our schedules," said Hanley.

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Constellation Program • NASA • Orion • Space

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finian826   August 11th, 2008 9:34 pm ET

Just curious why it would take so long between last shuttle flight and the first Orion flight? Does NASA not have the designs and knowledge of a powerful enough rocket to get astronauts to the moon? Can that launch vehicle not be used to get the astronauts to the ISS and be modified to provide a quicker flight to the moon?

I realize everything boils down the the mighty dollar in how much it will cost, but hasn't the research and designs from back in the mid 60's to early 70's accelerate this in between phase of space travel?

If I was a politician in office today, I would be ensuring those questions are just not asked of NASA, but rather demanded of NASA. Why spend billions to reinvent the paper clip in essence.

Franko   August 11th, 2008 10:27 pm ET

Emphasis is correct, asymmetrical launch and return.
The boomerang, my shuttle to come back, was far from optimal, financially.
Worked well in science fiction, now the design can optimise selectively.

Heavy lift, building blocks, and we are off to . .. ...

Jeremy   August 12th, 2008 11:56 am ET

What a sensible way to spend money manned space flight is. And clearly something that is so useful and important that government should be taxing people to pay for it....

Franko   August 12th, 2008 3:00 pm ET

The evil Queen of China disbanded the Navy, to improve her Palace.
Arose navies of the Barbaric Races. China has not gotten over it yet

Refuse to occupy the opportunity, and others will occupy you.
US had the lead, distracted, confused, to be overtaken by China ?

Had a good design in the past, Sea Dragon, massievly efficient.

Nick   August 12th, 2008 8:02 pm ET

Why does it look like a giant space cigarette?

Franko   August 13th, 2008 1:49 am ET

A subliminal cigarette ad, arouse the cravings, has NASA sold US out ?
Only untill Paris Hilton gets elected, Pale Blue to match the Pinkhouse tint ?

MATRIX   August 13th, 2008 4:06 am ET

People may wonder, what this all for. what ever US do, especially what ever NASA do, they cant reach the infiniti. i challenge you all, our destiny is not reachable.

the entire world now based on us. everyone expecting our arrival.
this is not that far, my dear friends!!

we are just preparing. our launch is massive....

for us, what ever you people do looks like a "Baby with a Doll"

will contact CNN very soon, WE want the CNN team to be prepared to arrage the Larry king live for us.

we want CNN to change the Concept to Matrix.
we need the black and green theme on your television.

you may ignore this message....

endup the day, people will deserve for what they have done....

Its gonna be a new revolution. a new world, NO WAR ...NO WAR...I REPEAT NO WAR.....



HA HA....


Don S   August 13th, 2008 2:44 pm ET

I think it is a step backwards in that we have to go "cheap" and build another antique-based space capsule to continue in space. As early as 1944, the Germans were using a small Shuttle like craft that actually looks like the ones we use now. (The 'Natter", built by Bachem). What we need to do is upgrade the reusable shuttle we have. Modernize it. If not, in a few years the Chinese will be launching them based on cheap cost. Then it will be us requesting room aboard one of their flights.

Don S   August 13th, 2008 2:50 pm ET

This, my friends, IS China's century. Perhaps we could go into a joint effort to build the next version of the shuttle. Perhaps not. Soon, they won't "need us". They will be making inexpensive trips to the stars and we'll be begging for a seat. Rather that that to go 'backwards' and start using parachutes again.

Arex   August 13th, 2008 4:12 pm ET

Typical NASA rhetoric. Let's spend billions and billions on mockups and digital models, drag it on a few years, then cancel it.

Just give it all to Richard Branson. You goons at NASA clearly can't glue two pieces of wood together in less than two years.

Franko   August 14th, 2008 1:11 am ET

Space Shuttle was science fiction inspired, inefficient in reality.
Wasted time and money, just a space station danger taxi.

For orbital speed, massive rocket and stages are needed.
Asymmetry, is the reality, just good brakes, to return.

elliot sachs   August 14th, 2008 7:14 am ET

whats wrong with using the apollo spacecraft system that got us to the moon almost 40 years ago? the way they are talking about going to the moon its like we never went and this is our first trip up. i don't get it.

Franko   August 14th, 2008 2:01 pm ET

Right on, But the plans for the Saturn 5 are long lost.
Perhaps, we could ask the Chinese archivers, for a copy ?
Then crosscheck with the Russian Spy Network, to veryfy authenticity.

Might turn up in someones attic, but cannot wait for that.

YES   August 14th, 2008 9:28 pm ET

We travel space becasue the human race will be doomed on this planet, eventually this solar system. Yes it wont happen for billions of years but if our race does not want to be extinct then we will have to learn how to move.

not to mention we are already doing a fine job of killing or planet, and the urge for us to explore what we can not yet see.....those are the reasons to spend the money

Brett   August 15th, 2008 10:52 am ET

I believe the reason we're moving back to the parachute system is to save money. The space shuttles we use now have literally the most complex computer systems in the entire world, and some of that is used for landing. Why be forced to design a craft which must be flyable like an airplane when you can just use a parachute? Not as graceful, but a good move when you think about it.

Franko   August 15th, 2008 12:08 pm ET

Simple as up and down.
Pointing up, needle nossed, to reduce the drag.
Slowing down, just a big flat bottom.

The Shuttle did both, neither efficiently, due task assymetry.

Double D   August 16th, 2008 11:18 pm ET

ah, another delay...doesnt NA$A already have a HUGE budget and a lot of extremely "smart" people to get things done? If we got to the moon back in the '60s, why then is it so hard to get back w/ more advanced tech??

Personally, I believe NA$A's budget money is needed much more for problems here at home, but that's another story.

Franko   August 18th, 2008 3:00 am ET

NASA to solve urgent problems first,
Swarm Earth with monitoring satellites.
Every millimeter, time sequenced.
Spy Osama, Illegal Mexican Fruit Pickers,
Cansdian SasQuatch tourists.

IR$, services, exported to all nations , dictator, or democracy.
USA all power, all knowledge, not God, just omniscient.

RoidRanger   August 18th, 2008 5:26 pm ET

Just to level set – the human era of space flight would be equivalent to the cave men discovering fire...

...I'm quite sure a lot of cave men got burned (or worse) trying to control it. It follows, that a lot of money will be spent and a lot astronauts are going to die before we find a better way to get into orbit that doesn't involve strapping a giant stick of dynamite to your a$$ and lighting it.

david   August 19th, 2008 4:08 am ET

I strongly doubt if there was ever a landing on the moon,if they are still struglling for a design to transport astronauts to the space station.
There should be an international enquiry carried out by independent people to verify if the US government lied to the world concerning the moon landing,so that this is resolved once and for all

Franko   August 19th, 2008 1:29 pm ET

Moon was to be Nuked, to scare the Commies.
Newer happened, not even faked.
NASA could do it now, for Olympic celebration

navin   August 20th, 2008 12:25 pm ET

Why return is a parachute , going to old design , can't nasa think of a better way to bring the spacecraft crew.

Think forward , not backward...

Steve   August 20th, 2008 1:03 pm ET

Would you guys please write in complete sentences?

Unintelligible short...

What did he..?

If your not in my mind you can't..?

... english 101.

Wasting time typing to myself....

Bloody mindstream garbage.

Robert   August 20th, 2008 1:34 pm ET

I don't get it why not build a jet that goes up to 40,000 feet then have a rocket built into it so it can blast into orbit. then when you need it to come back down it just fly's back into the atmosphere and decelarates with a backwards rocket till it's back at 40,000 feet and flying like a jet. it would be effecient and probably have a quick turnaround time

Franko   August 20th, 2008 10:11 pm ET

Forward or backward in time comparison, misses the simple up and down.
Mission, optimized for maximum to orbit, implies minimum to bring back.

The goal is to get heavy to orbit. Then options for Moon and Mars.

Concerned Bystander   August 21st, 2008 5:26 pm ET


In light of Russia's invasion of Georgia and subsequent confrontation with the US and NATO their Soyuz bus service to the International Space Station is likely to be withdrawn, thus leaving NASA without a ready replacement.

Shuttle External Tank tooling is slated for destruction NEXT MONTH!!

Please look into the matter as carrying out such a move will be a disaster! We need to retain Shuttle capability until this situation with ISS's Russian participation is confirmed, stabilized, or replaced with another manned lift vehicle.

Stop the tooling destruction process NOW

blobzilla   August 23rd, 2008 1:10 am ET

I appreciate the true humor some have come up with,,omg. Its way funny,,one girls said she dated bigfoot and his name is a misnomer,,big feet but,,sigh,,lol. Ive had more laughs out of the ET, elvis, bigfoot birthing aliens,,than i ever imagined,,lauged alot. My fav was one who said it was a big fat hairy hillbilly who got drunk and then naked and died in the bushes,,too funny as it was from the start,,thanks for the fun all 🙂

blobzilla   August 23rd, 2008 1:17 am ET

The basic problem folks is the amount of energy it takes to get a pound of mass accelerated to 18,000 mph (orbita speed). Its a 1000 bucks a pound currently and we dont have the resources to develope much at that cost. We need to lower the cost thru more efficent reactions than chemical ones. mag drive, nuclear, or many othe proposals are out there. Our current way wont work, chemical reactions are inefficent,, hydrogen oxegen is the best at 10% and the engines can only run for a few minutes. The answer is ovbious on two fronts one electromagnetic rail guns and one is the super cannons. both will drop non g sensitive into orbit for about 10 bucks a ton after capital expenditures,,side of a mountan,,rail 1 mile long and electricty can accelerate a ton into orbit cheaply.

We will never develope space at a grand a pound,,dont care what vehicle you develop?

just my opinion

Franko   August 23rd, 2008 11:21 pm ET

For 100 km orbit Wiki gives 31.8 MJ/kg. or 8.83 Kwh/kg
At $0.10/kwh, less than a dollar. Need efficient method.
Build rail gun tunnel to top of Mt Everest, then beam power ?

"The microwave thermal thruster and its application to the launch problem"

Press to Digitate   August 25th, 2008 3:11 am ET

You can chalk this up to either "Corruption" or "Conspiracy", but the one thing you cant label NASA's Aries/Orion programs with is "Competence".

The original space program went from Mercury Redstone to Apollo Saturn V in the length of time between now and the projected first Orion manned flight in 2014. But there is nothing new in Orion or Aries. Orion launches on a Space Shuttle SRB first stage, with LOX/LH2 second-stage engines that are nearly identical with those used 40 years ago. Other than bringing the Command Module heat shield and capsule avionics up to current – and virtually 'Off-the-Shelf' technology, NASA is merely selling us the same system we paid for in the 1960s, and charging us to engineer it all over again – but more slowly and expensively this time. For it to take this long to put together is nothing but a scam.

But, have no fear, just like the National AeroSpace Plane, and VentureStar, you can be sure that the next President, whoever he is, will cancel Aries/Orion, and set them about designing something completely different, which will also drag on for years with no result, before it too gets replaced with a new chimera. Its all designed to keep us out of space, beyond the token crew of ISS in LEO. Just watch, as soon as the ISS is completed, NASA will announce plans to decommission and de-orbit it.

In his NYT Bestseller "Dark Mission", Richard Hoagland is right. NASA has become a circus, run to entertain the public and distract them from whatever really IS going on. Corrupt management with ulterior motives and a hidden agenda. Its such a sharme; so many good people under them with so much talent, and its all being put to waste – literally.

Give Burt Rutan 10% of the NASA budget, and scrap the rest; disband the buraucracy and liquidate the agency's field centers and other assets. NASA is keeping us out of space, and the survival of our species demands that they be pushed aside, in favor of more honest and competent explorers and technologists in the private sector.

LB   August 25th, 2008 10:37 am ET

Why they are going to an old design is beyond me but it sickens me that there are so many people out there that think studying outer space is a waste of time and money. Your dark age ignorant way of thinking is scary to say the least.

Franko   August 26th, 2008 12:12 am ET

Private space launches could not make money.
Not because of bad design. Well funded bad, drives out the unfunded good.

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