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NASA closes gap in crewed space flight after Shuttle

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Oct 22, 2007 11:49 pm
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NASA today briefed the public about the current status on the Constellation program. They announced an ambitious goal to reduce the gap in crewed spaceflight after the Shuttle retirement in 2010 down to 3 years.

NASA successfully lightened the Orion spacecraft of several thousand pounds during the last months. Most was achieved by decreasing the service module’s diameter and adding a payload fairing style protection that can be jettisoned during ascent.

While last development steps are done, NASA also prepares for their intensive test flight program. The first test flight, an Pad Abort test, is planned for September 2008, followed every few months by additional flight tests:

Test flight highlights:
PA-1 September 2008
Ares I-X April 2009
Ares I-Y September 2012
Orion 2 September 2013


NASA now plans to put a crew on the second Orion test flight in September 2013, targetted for an ISS docking. After two additional test flights thereafter, the Ares I rocket with the Orion spacecraft will be declared operational in 2015.


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