back to article Space shuttle replacement delayed until 2014

NASA has put back the planned launch of its Orion spacecraft for a year, meaning the first test launch won't be until 2014 at the earliest. The agency's publicly-announced deadline set by Congress to conduct a first test launch of a manned Orion capsule was 2015. Internally, though, it was hoped to fast-track this to 2013 …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    Apollo on steroids?

    More like Apollo on pies judging by some of the fat bastards in the Orion interior illustrations.

    Funny, I can't do me coat buttons up.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Picture and midgets..

    Is that two configurations or two decks?

    There seems to be a general requirement for carrying either two or four (configurations or decks respectively) midgets?

  3. Jared Earle
    Black Helicopters

    Apollo 1

    Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were killed in the Apollo 1 plugs-out test. Ed White was the first American to space-walk. Just thought I'd mention them in case we forget them. Grissom seems to be the only one mentioned when referring to Apollo 1, and I suspect that's because Gil Grissom was named after him.

    And yes, we need an Astronaut in US Gubmint.

  4. George

    Giants and dwarves in space

    Whats going on with sending giants and dwarfs into space...positive discrimination gone mad I tell you!

  5. TimM

    Future of space travel...

    ... is in the hands of the commercial sector (and probably the Chinese too). Forget NASA. They just seem to be going backwards, slowly. Apollo technology is hardly going to get us all zipping off to the stars as we dreamed we would be doing by now.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    maybe a

    second generation astronaut (privately) should run for President - Go on Lord (General) British ;)

    Well lets face it he's a geek (a plus) and mental so he's be perfect for the job, can't screw it up any more than monkey boy

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paris for President

    Then we wouldn't have Junior shooting his mouth off or Dick shooting his ol' hunting buddies, and the scariest thing the world would have to deal with coming out of the USA was Paris shooting the Easter bunnies.

    And she like rockets too.

  8. Chris Hunt

    Too right!

    So they're "criticising the Orion crew capsule for not putting safety features first". Can you blame them? Accoring to that picture, one unfortunate astronaut is going to have one of his crewmate's feet in his face all the way to the moon (or wherever).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someones been watching too much Wall-E

    that is all...

  10. Zmodem

    the cons

    usually end up liking war machines and science research, they'll get lockhead and royce to build a shuttle

  11. Eponymous Cowherd

    Family capsule?

    Mum, Dad, and the two kids in one. The other seems to have room for Grandma and Grandpa, too.

    Fat bastards, too.

  12. HarryCambs
    Thumb Down

    Private industry is ahead

    NASA after failing to develop a fully reusable space craft now they are going backwards. Look at how Space X is developing a fully reusable rocket at the fraction of the cost!

  13. David Stever

    Fat Lego Astronauts?

    This has to be the worst simulated Steroid Capsule I've ever seen. I know there's two levels- two folks at the controls, and four behind them, along for the ride. This Simu seems to show two Andre the Giants and four small people in the orbital version. The Lunar version has four astros on board (no one telling the Andres to stay home, to make room for more gear- would you?), more room to stretch your legs for the 2.5 days to lunar orbit, before you swap to the LEM on Human Growth Hormone (c) for the trip to the dust bowl.

  14. Miami Mike

    Midget Astronauts not a bad idea

    Midget astronauts are actually not a bad idea - smaller, lighter, use less food/air, produce less waste, just as smart and capable as "full-sized" people, or even "jumbo" people.

    Besides, this is a good excuse to get rid of that insufferable wanker Vern Troyer - he should be the test pilot on the first flight. "Sit here, hold still, hold on, and don't touch anything. Screaming will do you no good at all, but it might make you feel better. Good luck."

  15. Eponymous Cowherd

    Re: Fat Lego Astronauts

    I'm sure someone could come up with a *much* more realistic Playmobil simulatiion.

  16. Mike Flugennock

    Apollo, SpaceX, this, that, the other thing.

    Re: Apollo on steroids: A lot of people make this comparison in error. Remember that, engineering and aerodynamics-wise, there's one certain set of shapes which are most efficient for reentry vehicles, of which the classic "cone" (Apollo) is one. You only need check out proposed manned reentry vehicles from ESA and the xUSSR:

    And, here's some good old images depicting some early concepts for the original Apollo crew-return module from circa 1960ish:

    They are _not_, in fact, using "Apollo-era technology", but are returning to a more efficient shape for a crew-return module. The underlying technology is "modern", but they're attempting to return to a launch vehicle/crew-return system which had been proven effective in the 1960s. We'd be in far better shape now, with a heavy-lift booster and crew-return capability as good or better than Soyuz, if we'd stuck with Saturn/Apollo and, as with Soyuz, continued to improve incrementally instead of chasing after the Holy Grail of a reusable boost-glide spaceplane which turned out to be an overpriced "flying brickyard" with all the attendant launch and heat-shielding issues that come with it -- not to mention not having a goddamn' _escape_system_, f'crissake.

    Re: SpaceX: Would this be the same SpaceX whose boosters have been blowing up on a regular basis?

    And, just to quickly wrap up, as I'm supposed to be working now:

    ...and never mind the concept art. Cool, dramatic lighting rendering, but it makes it look as if all the people at the base of the "crawler" should be praying to the rocket...

  17. b

    we need a moon base.

    most of the weight of crafts leaving this fair planet is made up of the fuel needed to escape our heavy gravity and atmosphere.

    if we can stop international conflicts (good luck with THAT one!) and redirect the OBSCENE amounts of money and efforts spent on killing our fellow man (miltary budgets), we could already BE on the moon exploring space from there.

    just my 2p worth!



    stuff and nonsense:

  18. Anonymous Coward

    A step backwards

    Going from a reusable vehicle to a capsule... Is this the best NASA could come up with after so many years? I understand the need for simplicity and cost-cutting, but really? We won't truly be a "spacefaring" society until we have a vehicle that can take off from a runway, make it at least to orbit, and land without a parachute. But I understand--funding a useless war comes first. (not that there's much choice at this point)

  19. Anonymous Coward


    I once had an Orion. Wouldn't trust it to get to the shops never mind the moon.

  20. Zmodem

    nasa just talks

    last week they were going to buy the japanesse capsule, build a moonbase and have a manned mission to mars, now they have orion,

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry, you can always trust the Russians

    NASA can rely on the Russians to carry them through. You can trust them, they are not like the others. Just ask a Georgian.

  22. vincent himpe

    sad day.

    1969 : put a man on the moon in avery complex contraption

    1981 : First launch of space shuttle, an even more complex contraption

    2008 : Announce a new 'tin can' to hurl people up into space.

    What's next ?

    2018 : Announce that we found a way to put a nut on a bolt ?

    2028 : we'll be lucky if we can find our own feet.

    2038 : we all live back in caves

  23. Zmodem


    2011: Brits get £1bn land\range rover SUV marines can actually jump into

  24. Marc

    Are those...

    "Oh ____" handles up top?

    I like the (presumably) gas charged shocks for the whole seating arrangement.

  25. Kevin

    @vincent himpe

    And, we know why it all has to end in 2038 - that's when the 32-bit time_t's roll over and time goes back to January 1970. The circle is complete. Repeat until bored.

  26. Kevin Kitts
    IT Angle

    Missing the point...

    why are we going there again when colonization is not the purpose of the mission? This is a waste of time. Even then, I'm against Moon colonization because overcolonization could end up screwing up Earth. Overcolonize Mars, and at worst it'll just de-orbit into the asteroid belt - no loss to Earth (at least in the short term).

    Humor and worst-case-scenarios aside, this seems like either the stupidest idea the Bush administration could come up with (like a 90210 reunion - they couldn't come up with a new and better show?), or a cover story for some other mission (probably a top-secret or higher experiment). It costs too much to put people up there without some tangible benefit - "we made it there...again" does NOT count.

    Unless they're hiding a huge, atmosphere-splitting UV laser in the non-returnable portion of the lunar lander. Or Google World's v2 spy camera.

    Wouldn't that be our luck. The Georgian crisis expands into WW3, and the only sign left of our civilization after its destruction is a old lunar lander module with the Google logo on the side. </shakes head in dismay>

  27. Charles Manning

    NASA is a political machine

    The prime reason for having NASA in the 60s was because of the Cold War: to show superiority to the Russians. Science had very little to do with it. The Russians got sputnik up and the Americans had to do something far grander. The whole program of getting a man to the moon did inspire a nation (and take its mind off Vietnam), but once the first trip had happened interest dropped off rapidly.

    The idea of colonising the moon or a planet is laughable. No matter how badly we screw up this planet it will always be a better starting point than trying to kickstart a habitable ecosystem elsewhere.

  28. TimM

    Re: we need a moon base

    Just have to make sure that they don't store nuclear waste on the moon base, else risk the moon flying off round the universe ;)

  29. Alistair

    @Charles Manning

    The technology benefits of the Apollo programme and a lot of other aerospace research from the '50s and '60s are too numerous to list, although you might consider looking at what you're looking at to start with.

    But the whole "lets go to the Moon, and then Mars" thing is merely Chimpface's desperate attempt to put himself in a better position in the history books. Expect it to be cancelled in the near future, and ongoing shuttle programmes to be revived out of necessity.

  30. Zmodem


    sure there away to nutralize nuclear waste with liquid nitrogen

  31. Tom Fleming

    We should probably use the EU vehicle, instead

    Where was that picture that I saw....

  32. Robert E A Harvey

    ...delayed until 2014

    It's not being run by Arriva, is it?

    Mine's the one with an Ian Allen combined volume in the pocket

  33. Scott

    Its so wrong for so many reasons

    Couple of big things. As was mentioned before, we're currently - get this - going to rely on the Russians for the only Manned access to the International Space Station from Shuttle retirement 2010 till this thing gets up there? You know the guys that just invaded Georgia, cut off heating supplies to nations in the winter..that nation. Smart, not setting us for a problem there. This is so we don't have to spend money to keep the shuttle around til its replacement is working (which would seem to be the way you'd want to do things when you have a space station) - pennywise and pound foolish?

    The design has been constantly fighting weight issues because Nasa wants to use a Shuttle Solid Rocket motor for its primary lift of this capsule - again for political budget reasons - but it doesn't provide enough lift. (There's two US vehicles that could solve that problem, but it would be a little more expensive - Delta IV Heavy (human rate this) or Atlas V Heavy - new development).

    At this point it's actually looking to be Ocean recovery as the norm and Land recovery as an emergency measure - again because of weight issues because the political choice of the Solid Rocket Booster main stage doesn't provide enough oomph. Can you imagine - we're back to having sea sickness and vomit all over the place on virtually every mission (ask Apollo Astronauts). Expensive to do the sea recovery - that's for the future to pay for. Penny wise and Pound Foolish.

    This program should be eliminated with the next Admin and started over from scratch with real long term goals and technology, not "what can the budget shoe horn in for us".

  34. Zmodem


    titanium alloy/reinfoced steel satalite/capsule hulls are non beneficial, reinforced fiber is 70% lighter with lower thermal\electrical conductivity and just as strong,

    aerospace just needs the balls

  35. Mike Flugennock

    Re: Former Astronaut As US Prez

    Hate to break your hearts over there at El Reg, but I don't think that'd guarantee any positive change in space policy or any big-time revival of a US push to the Moon and/or Mars.

    We've already had a couple of former astronauts in Congress: in the House Of Representatives, from Arizona, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, Apollo 17 LMP; and in the Senate, from Ohio, John Glenn, Friendship 7 pilot and STS-95 Payload Specialist (or, some would say, simply "payload").

  36. David Taylor

    Forget the giants and midgets

    It's the poor people that have to sacrifice their heads to fit in the capsule that I feel sorry for...

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