Feeds

Space shuttle replacement delayed until 2014

This is why a former astronaut should run for president

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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 despite technical and financial issues. NASA had hoped to keep the time between the last shuttle flight and the first Orion flight to a minimum.

"September 2014 is when we are saying we will launch the first crew on the Orion," programme manager Jeff Hanley said.

NASA hopes to complete construction of the International Space Station (ISS) and retire the space shuttle fleet in 2010, enabling its budget to be spent on developing and maintaining the Orion program.

Cost concerns are once again at the root of the delay, but NASA is also giving itself room to manoeuvre around any unforeseen technical problems that will inevitably crop up, Hanley told reporters.

image courtesy of www.unitedspacealliance.com

Orion: "Apollo on steroids"

"It's the unknowns that we have to hedge against," he told the press. "Having some number of months of schedule flexibility to meet our commitment, in addition to having some number of months of cost flexibility, is key to keeping ourselves in a healthy posture."

The Orion spacecraft will replace the ageing shuttle fleet, and is designed to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS and eventually to and from the moon. But unlike the shuttle, which lands like a traditional winged aircraft, Orion is much more like a capsule that will deploy parachutes and land at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

"As we looked at the plan we had for September 2013 against the available dollars, it became clear to us that we needed to adjust our schedules," said Hanley.

This latest knock for NASA comes as the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel cited that the space agency was not properly emphasising safety in its design of the new spaceship; its return-to-the-moon programme faces money, morale and leadership problems.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 143-page annual report specifically criticised the agency's design of the Orion crew capsule for not putting safety features first.

Because of weight problems with the Orion design NASA had used a different approach, one "without all safeguards included" from the beginning.

The safety advisory panel, which includes two former space-shuttle astronauts was created after the Apollo 1 fire in 1967, which killed three astronauts including Gus Grissom.

Hanley said he had not seen the safety panel's report, which apparently also praised some aspects of the programme and looked at the agency in general. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.