NASA


Home

Staff and leadership

Space flight programs

Manned programs

X-15 rocket plane

Project Mercury

Project Gemini

Apollo program

Skylab

Apollo–Soyuz Test Project

Space Shuttle program

International Space Station

Commercial programs

Beyond Low Earth Orbit program

Orion (spacecraft)

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) is an American-European interplanetary spacecraft intended to carry a crew of four astronauts to destinations at or beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Currently under development by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) for launch on the Space Launch System, Orion is intended to facilitate human exploration of the Moon, asteroids and of Mars and to retrieve crew or supplies from the International Space Station if needed.
On January 14, 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) as part of the Vision for Space Exploration. The CEV was partly a reaction to the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the subsequent findings and report by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), and the White House's review of the American space program. The CEV effectively replaced the conceptual Orbital Space Plane (OSP), which was proposed after the cancellation of the Lockheed Martin X-33 program to produce a replacement for the Space Shuttle. As the Vision for Space Exploration was developed into the Constellation program under NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, the Crew Exploration Vehicle was renamed the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, after the stellar constellation of the same name.
On May 7, 2009, the Obama administration enlisted the Augustine Commission to perform a full independent review of the ongoing NASA space exploration program. The commission found the then current Constellation Program to be woefully under-budgeted, behind schedule by four years or more in several essential components, with significant cost overruns, and unlikely to be capable of meeting any of its scheduled goals under its current budget. As a consequence, the commission recommended a significant re-allocation of goals and resources. As one of the many outcomes based on these recommendations, on October 11, 2010, the Constellation program was cancelled, ending development of the Altair, Ares I, and Ares V. The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle survived the cancellation and was renamed the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), to be launched on the Space Launch System.
This mission would have placed an asteroid in lunar orbit, rather than sending astronauts to an asteroid in deep space. It was a part of the FY2014 budget request. Originally planned for 2017, then 2020, and then for December 2021, the mission was given its notice of defunding in April 2017. The launch vehicle would have been either a Delta IV Heavy, SLS or Falcon Heavy. The boulder would have arrived in lunar orbit by late 2025, where it was to be further analyzed both by robotic probes and by a future crewed mission called ARCM (Asteroid Redirect Crewed Mission).
In May 2011 the ESA director general announced a possible collaboration with NASA to work on a successor to the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle). On June 21, 2012, Airbus Defence and Space announced that they had been awarded two separate studies, each worth È6.5 million, to evaluate the possibilities of using technology and experience gained from ATV and Columbus related work for future missions. The first looked into the possible construction of a service module which would be used in tandem with the Orion capsule. The second examined the possible production of a versatile multi purpose orbital vehicle.