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The state-of-the-art Orion spacecraft will carry America’s astronauts on voyages venturing farther into deep space than ever before – past the Moon to Asteroids, Mars and Beyond!

This thing can go to Mars??

Not a landing there, obviously, but if it can really get to Mars orbit/flyby and back with its crew still alive (which I doubt, but still) that would be impressive.

Whenever I see pictures of the SLS, I catch myself trying to identify KSP NASA parts. :sticktongue:

EDIT:

Wikipedia says that the Orion spacecraft is designed to go to Mars, but doesn't elaborate.

The NASA website does something similar. ...okay?

Anyone got better info?

Edited by GreeningGalaxy

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Well, it can return from Mars (re-entry from Mars transit speeds). NASA, SpaceX, pretty much everyone agrees that some sort of habitat module is necessary to house astronauts on the way there. Orion itself is designed for 21 days unassisted (with a full crew), which is still pretty impressive.

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This thing can go to Mars??

Not a landing there, obviously, but if it can really get to Mars orbit/flyby and back with its crew still alive (which I doubt, but still) that would be impressive.

Whenever I see pictures of the SLS, I catch myself trying to identify KSP NASA parts. :sticktongue:

EDIT:

Wikipedia says that the Orion spacecraft is designed to go to Mars, but doesn't elaborate.

The NASA website does something similar. ...okay?

Anyone got better info?

The media (as usual) gets the SLS/Orion wrong. Orion is going to be a transit/return vehicle to and from a large transfer vehicle waiting in low earth orbit. Yes, it'll probably go to Mars, but not the same way Apollo was sent to the Moon.

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The media (as usual) gets the SLS/Orion wrong. Orion is going to be a transit/return vehicle to and from a large transfer vehicle waiting in low earth orbit. Yes, it'll probably go to Mars, but not the same way Apollo was sent to the Moon.

Probably?

Maybe we should wait until the thing flies its official mission before saying what it will do after.

It could survive reentry from a Mars transit, but isn't designed to keep a crew alive long enough. An Orion capsule with a different service module could be used to bring back a crew if we find a way to shield them from radiation, how to send them there, and how to keep them alive for 2 years.

More likely, it could also be used to bring back samples, after rendez-vous in orbit with a lander. That would still be one hell of a mission, and NASA might very well choose to use a specifically designed vehicle for that.

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Probably?

Maybe we should wait until the thing flies its official mission before saying what it will do after.

Yes. And that is exactly why I said 'probably'.

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Its "first official mission" is in December of this year. Test flights count. They're sending a real spacecraft into orbit. If you mean first manned mission, even that's still up in the air. It'll be in/around 2021, but we have no idea what it will do. The ARM seems to be the favorite candidate, though. However, every single official NASA Mars design reference mission has an Orion capsule going to Mars along with a deep space hab, and then returning the crew to Earth. The reason for this is that direct entry at Earth's atmosphere is cheaper, Delta V-wise, than returning to low Earth orbit and waiting for a "space taxi." (And, in fact, that would be a job for a commercial crew vehicle anyway, not Orion.)

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Yes. And that is exactly why I said 'probably'.

Ok, I wasn't very clear.

It's not probably going to Mars, it might, maybe, go to Mars.

As in, I'll probably see my parents for Christmas, but maybe I will one day be a millionaire and buy a space holiday.

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Is this just the capsule or is there a service module attached?

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Is this just the capsule or is there a service module attached?

Crew Capsule, Service Module, and Launch Abort system

They are planning on launching this before the end of the year? With what? The Ares was cancelled and the SLS can't possibly be close enough to launch.

EDIT: Oh I see, they are gonna mount it to a Delta IV.

Edited by Alshain

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Well, last large SLS-Conference gave the following info on Orion:

1st iteration = Moon return entry design (not Mars rated, the heatshield couldnt handle it)

-> this iteration is ready to do the asteroid mission designed to bring and study a small asteroid in lunar orbit. the first 2 testflights will also go there, doesn't matter if the asteroid will be there at the time or not, the capsule test will be done anyways. the first test will be earth orbit atmo-reentry 80% lunar orbit speed, then 2nd to lunar orbit, then manned lunar orbit.

2nd iteration = after Asteroid redirect mission the capsule should be updated to do Mars orbit reentry = heatshield and radiation updates needed

3rd iteration = Mars landing upgrades, maybe inflatable heatshield...but thats very speculative for now.

Well, Mars is rather speculative. There is not much info on what comes between Asteroid redirect and Mars, so basically everything is open for Orion, an update is needed anyways to do Mars so that may never materializes. If Dragon will be Mars rated before Orion i could picture Nasa just buying some Dragon Capsules instead of refitting Orion.

Edited by TNM

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I still don't see any point in Orion and SLS as a completely government founded project. Congress should have gone for deep space exploration with the private sector. If SpaceX, Bigellow, Boeing and the rest will be up for Mars/Moon mission challenges Orion and SLS will have no point to be used other than just because it's been already developed by then.

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If NASA flies the design reference architecture anytime in the next 25 years Orion will probably at least go to Mars with the crew.

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I don't understand why NASA wants to take the Orion capsule all the way to Mars and back.

That's a lot of weight that could be used for cargo.

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I still don't see any point in Orion and SLS as a completely government founded project. Congress should have gone for deep space exploration with the private sector. If SpaceX, Bigellow, Boeing and the rest will be up for Mars/Moon mission challenges Orion and SLS will have no point to be used other than just because it's been already developed by then.

Why would anybody other than the government fund such a large rocket? There's no commercial market.

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Why would anybody other than the government fund such a large rocket? There's no commercial market.

What I meant that the government should fund the mission but the developer of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft should have been a private enterprise. Just look at how much possibilities there are among the various companies. Their technologies are mostly ahead of Orion and SLS, yet they are the ones limited to LEO.

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It is private enterprises; specifically LM for the capsule and Boeing for SLS. NASA has no production capability.

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It's going to be very interesting when SpaceX launches the Falcon Heavy at a small fraction of what a single SLS costs.

Note that this December's test of Orion does not include a complete spacecraft. There is no functional service module by ESA, the capsule itself is bare from its full set of electronics and life support systems due to weight issues with its current parachutes. Of course, not to mention the decade long development and pricing (over 5 billion dollars) of this single capsule.

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It is private enterprises; specifically LM for the capsule and Boeing for SLS. NASA has no production capability.

That's not what I said. The SLS/Orion design is a congress approved NASA design and isn't meant to be competitive and takes away from the NASA budget way too much. Dragon, Dream Chaser, CST and the others aren't. Space X is ahead of this two with their technologies using 3D printed components, methane engines, the landing system and more. To produce the SLS large amount of upgrades had to be done in NASA facilities like the MAF which costs billions and delayed the launch date too while for eg. Falcon Heavy can be manufactured in the existing Space X factory in Hawthorne. Let's just say it wasn't a clever move by the current administration.

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3D printing isn't a viable process for economic mass-production of anything, and falcon heavy doesn't have remotely the capability of SLS. It's barely an improvement over DIVH.

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3D printing isn't a viable process for economic mass-production of anything, and falcon heavy doesn't have remotely the capability of SLS. It's barely an improvement over DIVH.

Falcon Heavy will be the first to use fuel cross-feed from the boosters. I wouldn't say it is just barely an improvement. The costs of 3D printing is definitely going to go down over time. NASA is also looking forward to use it. And also since Falcon 9 will be reusable it won't have to be mass produced. Now, listen. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward SLS, but I don't see how it's gonna help making exploration affordable and how it will achieve it's ultimate goal in the 30's. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't in use by then.

It's going to be very interesting when SpaceX launches the Falcon Heavy at a small fraction of what a single SLS costs.

And it also will be ready way before the SLS. It's gonna be interesting.

Edited by Reddragon

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Well, if you're going to do LEO taxi missions, then a DIVH or Falcon Heavy will do. SLS isn't really needed to launch the Orion, it's needed to launch it beyond LEO.

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Falcon Heavy will be the first to use fuel cross-feed from the boosters. I wouldn't say it is just barely an improvement.

It's barely an improvement in actually putting stuff into space. The GTO figure is barely higher, and payloads to e.g. TLI (i.e. the kind of orbits SLS is built for) are likely inferior.

The costs of 3D printing is definitely going to go down over time. NASA is also looking forward to use it.
Hitting the same kind of levels as traditional machine tooling isn't going to happen without very radical changes to the tech; the complexity is just too high.
And also since Falcon 9 will be reusable it won't have to be mass produced.
The central booster likely not reusable on falcon heavy missions, and plenty of customers require the expendable version of F9 for their payloads.
Now, listen. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward SLS, but I don't see how it's gonna help making exploration affordable and how it will achieve it's ultimate goal in the 30's. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't in use by then.

It's not intended to make exploration 'affordable'; it already is affordable. It's intended to facilitate further exploration than is possible with existing launchers, within the budget assigned, and that's it

And it also will be ready way before the SLS. It's gonna be interesting.

And Delta IVH was ready well before it. Why would it make the slightest bit of difference?

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Delta IV Heavy's payload to LEO capacity is about 28 tonnes, Falcon Heavy's will be about 53. That's not at all the same. GTO capacity is 14 for DIVH and 21 for F9H. Affordability is very relative. An SLS Block I launch will cost almost half a billion and originally it was meant to be launched once a year or two. So far no other components has been approved for development than the Orion MPCV. Anything from habitation modules to a lander for eg. hasn't been approved yet. Bigelow Aerospace has had inflatable modules in development for years and has offered space stations and even a lunar base. The successful lunar catalyst program could be escalated to develop a manned moon lander, hence Boeing came up with the idea of a reusable lander and a station at earth-moon Lagrange point 1. If SLS was approved to use any of these, I'd say it's all good. But so far everything else for SLS is just a concept. Nobody knows what will Block II, a rocket capable of lifting 130t to LEO be used for and when.

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LEO payload is useless except for advertising; with KH-11 being retired, there are now no LEO payloads being produced that would require DIVH, nevermind falcon heavy. Initial SLS plans are ARM, which won't require anything more than Orion, and later flights are far enough ahead to not require funding.

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