If everything goes according to their plan - Lockheed Martin would have their Orion spacecraft launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Image Credit: NASA

Lockheed Martin Wants to Launch Orion Spacecraft – on a Delta IV Heavy

1 Dec , 2010

by

[/caption]

After the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) one of the proposals to reduce the space flight ‘gap’ between the shuttle program and the Constellation Program was to attach the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to a Delta IV Heavy rocket. With all the political wrangling this simple solution appeared lost – or so it was thought. The idea of man-rating a Delta IV heavy never seemed to quite fade away and now a plan is under way to launch the Orion spacecraft on top of one of these massive launch vehicles – within the next three years.

More importantly by launching these test flights, NASA will be able to review up to three-quarters of the technical challenges involved with a flight to either the moon or to an asteroid – without risking a crew. Some of the elements that would be checked out on this unmanned test flight would be:

• Spacecraft stabilization and control.

• Parachutes used for reentry and other systems used to recover the spacecraft.

• Micrometeoroid shielding along with other systems used to protect the vehicle.

The manufacturer of the Orion spacecraft, Lockheed Martin, plans to have the first flight take place as soon as 2013. This test flight would launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37. If all goes well? Astronauts could be riding the Delta IV heavy to destinations such as the moon or an asteroid by 2015. For now though these plans are still in their infancy.

If all does go according to how Lockheed Martin human spaceflight engineers plan – the first mission to an asteroid could beat the 2025 date that President Obama set during his April visit to Kennedy Space Center – by ten years.

Each successive flight after the first unmanned mission would shake out the technology more and more until crews fly into orbit. The first unmanned flight, as envisioned by Lockheed Martin, would emulate many of the elements of a mission to either an asteroid or to the moon.

For long-time followers of the space program, witnessing a man-rated launch of a Delta IV heavy will very much be a blast from the past. In the early days of the space program astronauts rode Atlas and Titan rockets into orbit (these rockets were actually man-rated Cold-War missiles). Attached atop the Delta IV would be the Orion capsule and on top of that would be a Launch Abort System (LAS). This last component is a small mini-rocket that would pull the capsule up and away from the Delta if there is an emergency.

Once the flight is completed, the Orion will splashdown in the same general area as Space Exploration Technology’s (SpaceX’s) Dragon Spacecraft – the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The Orion Spacecraft has proved itself to be a survivor. President Obama initially promised to support NASA’s lunar ambitions on the campaign trail – a promise he went back on once elected. He then attempted to cancel all elements of the Constellation Program of which Orion was a key part. This proposal landed with a resounding thud. He then attempted to gain support for his space plan by resurrecting Orion as a stripped down lifeboat for the International Space Station (ISS) – this too met with little support. Eventually, after much Congressional wrangling, Orion emerged as the one element of Constellation – which Obama could not kill.

Congress has put some support behind his plan to have commercial space firms provide transportation to low-Earth-orbit (LEO). However, these firms have no experience whatsoever launching men and material to orbit – and Congress wanted to have a backup plan – that meant Orion. As the launch vehicle that would have hefted Orion to orbit was effectively dead another rocket was required – the best candidate was the Delta IV heavy.

Within three years a Delta IV Heavy like this one could launch the first Orion capsule. Photo Credit: Universe Today/Alan Walters - awaltersphoto.com

,



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Aqua4U
Member
December 1, 2010 1:10 PM

I like! And even mentioned this possibility in a recent post!

Delta IV Heavy Roars Off Launch Pad on Secret NRO Mission

Nephish777
Member
Nephish777
December 1, 2010 1:57 PM

Sounds good to me!

Dark Gnat
Member
Dark Gnat
December 1, 2010 2:14 PM

Is the rocket human rated?

tripleclean
Member
tripleclean
December 1, 2010 2:38 PM

What is this whole man or human rated thing about with boosters, does it mean you have to fly a monkey or dog first? Who rates it, FAA or NASA? Why a Delta IV heavy instead of just a Delta IV? I like Lockheed and Boeing as companies much better than these space start-up companies.

high_school_astronomer
Member
high_school_astronomer
December 1, 2010 3:00 PM

Hmm, interesting. I wonder, though, would this be developed as a NASA owned vehicle and they’d just buy some Delta IVs? Or would it be done entirely by Boeing/Lockheed? I much prefer the latter, myself. Then it would be the competitive market environment which we need to bring down costs. Still, my personal favourite is SpaceX.

gopher65
Member
gopher65
December 1, 2010 3:21 PM

Try and write your news stories from a Neutral Point of View (NPoV). Reading this article has me thinking that UT is turning into a smaller version of Fox News or MSNBC. Just write the news. We can add in our own political commentary, thanks.

gopher65
Member
gopher65
December 1, 2010 3:22 PM

Here’s Wikinews’ page on NPoV, for reference, Jason Rhian. So you know what not to do in the future.

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/NPOV

gopher65
Member
gopher65
December 1, 2010 3:38 PM

Hmmm. Actually, that page currently describes a “fair and balanced” writing style, not a NPoV style. Wikinews should probably update that, since they are now deadset against using the CNN/Foxnews/MSNBC model of “fair and balanced” reporting. IE, reporting all sides of an issue equally, regardless of the validity of the arguments in question. For instance, on a story about a NASA probe to the moon, they’ll bring in someone like Richard Hoagland for the ‘other side’ of the story. As if there *is* another side to the facts. There are facts, and that’s it. Just facts.

lvav8r
Member
lvav8r
December 1, 2010 3:42 PM
“Why a Delta IV heavy instead of just a Delta IV?” The Delta IV may be enough for the Orion vehicle to reach low earth orbit, don’t know the exact numbers for it, but, to get to the moon, an asteroid or Mars, much higher velocity is required to escape earths gravity or entering a very large oval orbit that will simply return the spacecraft to the earth. Approximately 17,500 mph is required to reach LEO but approximately 24000 mph as Apollo did to reach the moon on a safe return orbital profile. The early test launches of Apollo and the Skylab and Apollo/Soyuz missions used the Saturn 1B booster stage since they only had to achieve LEO… Read more »
Aqua4U
Member
December 1, 2010 3:53 PM

Imagine if they strapped two more boosters onto the first stage! Lets go… NOW!

Aqua4U
Member
December 1, 2010 4:00 PM

I for one SO MUCH prefer liquid fueled boosters! be it liquid H2/O2 or O2/Kerosene… But it seems like the 02/Kerosene has the advantage in cost and storage.

Dark Gnat
Member
Dark Gnat
December 2, 2010 6:15 AM

Well, if they can get it human-rated, then lets go for it. Honestly, this may be our only way to get into space for years, maybe decades. sad

Dark Gnat
Member
Dark Gnat
December 2, 2010 6:17 AM

Not that I’m doubting commecrial space industry, but none ofthem have ever sent a person into space. Plus they all need some type of heavy launch vehicle. I think it would be better to use an existing reliable rocket as opposed to deeloping a new one, at least for the time being.

Quasy
Member
Quasy
December 2, 2010 7:46 AM

@Dark gnat: not necessarily; a heavy booster is required only for distant objects; but astronauts can be launched also with Falcon 9; so you can launch astronauts with Falcon 9, and keep the Delta IVH to launch the rest of the equipment to LEO; meet there and proceed further; in this way you don’t have to human rate the D4H (although I would support High_School_A’s ideea, to have the D4H human rated and available for competition with commercial launch companies)

ND
Member
ND
December 2, 2010 8:42 AM

What I always thought was crazy about the space shuttle program was that the first ever complete flight of the system was manned. Were the solid rocket boosters ever launched by themselves for testing, before the first shuttle launch?

I’m eager to see a human mission to astroids. If an human rated Delta IV can get us there sooner, awesome.

TerryG
Member
December 2, 2010 8:57 AM

Gopher65, you make an excellent point.
No one expects the waiter to make the menu selection and then spoon feed when the food arrives.
By unnecessarily politicizing this rocket story, (thankfully rare during the last five years of UT) Mr Rhian is putting the ass back into Astronaut program.
Mr Rhian, please try to remember the story is never actually about you and check you ego at the door.

tripleclean
Member
tripleclean
December 2, 2010 9:40 AM

@ ND
The first shuttles were manned. YES! that is what makes Young and Crippen the best test pilots yet.

wpDiscuz