September 1, 2009

Orion spacecraft passes design milestone

The U.S. space agency says it has completed the preliminary design review of its next crew exploration vehicle -- the Orion spacecraft.

The space agency said Orion is being designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations and the preliminary design review is one of a series of procedures that occur before hardware manufacturing can begin.

Officials said the review assessed the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets all NASA mission requirements to support three types of missions -- flights to the International Space Station, week-long missions to the moon and missions to the moon for up to 210 days.

This is the successful culmination of all of the design trade studies and activities to date, said Mark Geyer, manager of the Orion Project Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. As a project, a program and an agency, we are reviewing the design maturity, strategy and plans for NASA's next human spacecraft and agreeing that this is the architecture we are going to build.

NASA says it will continue the review process with an independent agency evaluation to gain formal approval to transition the project into the next life cycle phase.