Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
5 December 2014
Also Known As: CEV, Constellation, MPCV and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
and United States of America
ESA (Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)), Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin*, NASA, Orbital ATK and United Space Alliance (*) lead contractor
Parent System: Orion
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2017
Maiden Flight: 5 December 2014
Total Production: ?
Total Cost: USD$4.0 billion
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Description: The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is a NASA sponsored program aimed at developing the infrastructure and architecture concepts to make possible human exploration of the moon. The CEV will serve as NASA's next generation human space transportation system replacing current space shuttle. Through CEV astronauts will be carried from Earth into Space in a safer, more reliable and more cost-effective way. Moreover, CEV is expected to be the foundation of further developments that will make possible to reach out Mars and beyond.
The CEV program started around September 2004 establishing several industry teams. Two industry team proposals are expected to be selected by NASA later in 2005 with the CEV contract award to a single contractor team anticipated by 2008. The NASA expects that CEV will achieve an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2014. As of April 2005, the two most significant industry teams were led by Lockheed-Martin and Boeing/Northrop-Grumman.
According to what has been made public information, CEV should be a constellation of systems including both manned and robotic/unmanned systems that will enable astronauts to travel safely to Moon, Mars and beyond. A contract award should be released in September 2005 with the aim to conduct a flight demonstration in 2008. The CEV would operate from the middle of the next decade (2010-2020) or in a later date.
On 13 June 2005, NASA awarded Lockheed-Martin led team and Northrop-Grumman and Boeing-led team as the two contractors to compete in the design and production process of CEV as the replacement of NASA's Space Shuttle due for retirement by 2010. NASA vision is a CEV carrying up to six astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit beginning in 2010 and on the moon as early as 2015. CEV Phase 1 called for industry to mature their proposals. CEV Phase 2 calls for design and production of CEV. The down-selection to a single industry team was re-planned for 2006 instead of 2008, to support the Space Shuttle retirement in 2010.
NASA selected Lockheed Martin team to design and build the next-generation human space flight crew transportation system known as Orion (formerly CEV), with an initial contract value of approximately $4 billion, on August 31, 2006. Orion crew capsule design is meant to transport human crews to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2014, the Moon by 2020, and Mars. The Lockheed Martin industry team included Honeywell, Orbital Sciences Corporation, United Space Alliance and Hamilton Sundstrand. The state-of-the-art Orion vehicle will transport a crew of six-man to the ISS and up to four-man to the Moon. Compared to the current Space Shuttle, Orion will be an order of magnitude safer, more reliable and more operationally efficient with a lower per launch cost.
In September 2006, NASA awarded Boeing a 16-month contract to design and develop a Thermal Protection System (TPS) for the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The contract will focus on a phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA) heat shield to protect Orion from the extreme heat generated during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. Fiber Materials Inc. was the main subcontractor for Boeing's Orion heat shield.
A new generation of launch vehicles is being designed under NASA's Ares program to put Orion and cargo vehicles into space. The new launch vehicle family is known as Ares and so far comprises Ares I and Ares V rockets. Ares I will carry crew vehicles and Ares V will carry cargo vehicles into space.
The Orion/Ares space exploration program was cancelled by President Barack H. Obama in early 2010 due to program cost's escalation. Nevertheless, NASA selected the Orion as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) in late May 2011 with initial operation planned for 2016. The first mission will be a lunar uncrewed fly-by in 2017. On January 16, 2013, The European Space Agency (ESA) joined the Orion program supplying its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
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