Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
An artist's rendering of the Orion spacecraft
Role: Beyond LEO, back-up for commercial cargo and crew to the ISS[1]
Crew: 2-4[2]
Carrier Rocket: Space Launch System[3] (planned)
Launch Date: December 2013 or later[4]
Diameter: 5 m (16.5 ft)
Pressurized Volume: 19.56 m3 (691 cu ft) [2]
Habitable Volume: 8.95 m3 (316 cu ft) [2]
Capsule Mass: 8,913 kg (19,650 lb)
Service Module Mass: 12,337 kg (27,198 lb)
Total Mass: 21,250 kg (46,848 lb)
Service Module Propellant Mass: 7,907 kg (17,433 lb)
Total delta-v: 1,595 m/s
Endurance: 21.1 days[2]

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is a planned spacecraft that is being built by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States, based on designs and tests already completed for the Orion spacecraft. The MPCV was announced by NASA on May 24, 2011.[5] Debut unmanned multi-hour test flight, now known as Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) (formerly OFT-1)[6], was scheduled for a launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket in July 2013.[7] EFT-1 is now set for December 2013 and may slip to 2014.[8]



The MPCV is being developed for crewed missions to an asteroid and then to Mars. The capsule is also planned as a backup vehicle for cargo and crewed missions to the International Space Station. It will be launched by the Space Launch System.[9][10]


The MPCV resembles its Apollo-era predecessors, but its technology and capability are more advanced. It is designed to support long-duration deep space missions of up to six months. The spacecraft's life support, propulsion, thermal protection and avionics systems are designed to be upgradeable as new technologies become available.

The MPCV spacecraft includes both crew and service modules, and a spacecraft adaptor.

The MPCV's crew module is larger than Apollo's and can support more crew members for short or long-duration spaceflight missions. The service module fuels and propels the spacecraft as well as storing oxygen and water for astronauts. The service module's structure is also being designed to provide locations to mount scientific experiments and cargo.

Crew Module

The crew module is the transportation capsule that provides a hospitable habitat for the crew, provides storage for consumables and research instruments, and serves as the docking port for crew transfers. The crew module is the only part of the MPCV that returns to Earth after each mission.

The crew module will have 316 cubic feet (8.9 m3) and capabilities of carrying four astronauts for 21 day flights itself which could be expanded through additional service modules.[11] Its designers claim that the MPCV is designed to be 10 times safer during ascent and entry than the Space Shuttle.[10]

Service Module

Like the Apollo service modules, the MPCV service module supports the crew module from launch through separation prior to reentry. It provides in-space propulsion capability for orbital transfer, attitude control, and high altitude ascent aborts. When mated with the crew module, it provides the water and oxygen needed for a habitable environment, generates and stores electrical power while on-orbit, and maintains the temperature of the vehicle's systems and components.

This module can also transport unpressurized cargo and scientific payloads.

NASA is seriously considering having the ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle evolve into the role of Orion's Service Module sometime after 2015.[12]

Existing craft and mockup models

  • Boilerplate Test Article (BTA) is currently undergoing splashdown testing at the Hydro Impact Basin of NASA's Langley Research Center.[13]
  • The Ground Test Article (GTA) stack, located at Lockheed Martin in Denver, is undergoing vibration testing.[14] It is made up by the Orion Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) combined with it's Launch Abort System (LAS). Further testing will see the addition of Service Module simulator panels and Thermal Protection System (TPS) to the GTA stack. [15]
  • The Drop Test Article is undergoing test drops at the US Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. The mock Orion parachute compartment is dropped from an altitude of 25,000 feet from a C-130. [16]
  • Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) Orion (re-designation of OFT-1) is currently under construction at Michoud Assembly Facility.[17]

See also

MPCV Related:

CCDev Related:

  • CST-100 Crew capsule being developed by Boeing
  • Dragon being developed by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)
  • Dream Chaser being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • As-yet-unnamed "biconic nose cone design orbital vehicle" being developed by Blue Origin.. not to be confused with the Blue Origin New Shepard "vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL), suborbital manned rocket" also being developed by Blue Origin

Other Countries:


  1. ^ "NASA Authorization Act of 2010". Thomas.loc.gov. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:S3729:. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Preliminary Report Regarding NASA’s Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle". NASA. 2011-01. http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/510449main_SLS_MPCV_90-day_Report.pdf. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  3. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c111:3:./temp/~c111MS7qB3::
  4. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/09/sls-mission-improving-crewed-moon-mission-2019/
  5. ^ Wall, Mike (24 May 2011). "NASA Unveils New Spaceship for Deep Space Exploration". Space.com. http://www.space.com/11765-nasa-deep-space-exploration-vehicle-announcement.html. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  6. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/10/nasa-managers-serious-atv-role-as-orion-service-module/
  7. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/08/oft-1-nasa-orions-2013-debut-via-delta-iv-heavy/
  8. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/09/sls-mission-improving-crewed-moon-mission-2019/
  9. ^ "Preliminary Report Regarding NASA’s Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle". NASA. January 2011. http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/510449main_SLS_MPCV_90-day_Report.pdf. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "NASA Announces Key Decision For Next Deep Space Transportation System". NASA. 24 May 2011. http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/may/HQ_11-164_MPCV_Decision.html. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Jansen, Bart (24 May 2011). "NASA sticks with Orion capsule for deep-space travel". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2011-05-24-nasa-orion-capsule_n.htm. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/10/nasa-managers-serious-atv-role-as-orion-service-module/
  13. ^ http://www.space-travel.com/reports/What_Goes_Up_Must_Come_Down_As_Orion_Crew_Vehicle_Development_Continues_999.html
  14. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/11/nasa-approve-eft-1-flight-orion-pushes-2013-orbital-debut/
  15. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/10/space-bound-orion-lunar-missions-referenced/
  16. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/10/space-bound-orion-lunar-missions-referenced/
  17. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/10/nasa-managers-serious-atv-role-as-orion-service-module/

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