NASA's Orion Spacecraft Passes Significant Design Milestone

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HOUSTON -- NASA has taken a major step toward building the next crew
exploration vehicle by completing the Orion Project's preliminary
design review, or PDR. Orion is being designed to carry astronauts to
the International Space Station and other destinations.

The preliminary design review is one of a series of checkpoints that
occurs in the design life cycle of a complex engineering project
before hardware manufacturing can begin. As the review process
progresses, details of the vehicle's design are assessed to ensure
the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets all NASA
mission requirements.

The Orion features a capsule-shaped crew module designed for maximum
crew operability and safety, a service module housing utility systems
and propulsion components and a launch abort system for improved
astronaut safety. The preliminary design review evaluated the
vehicle's capability, as currently designed, to support three types
of missions: flights to the International Space Station, weeklong
missions to the moon and missions to the moon for up to 210 days.

"This is the successful culmination of all of the design trade studies
and activities to date," said Mark Geyer, manager of the Orion
Project Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "As a
project, a program and an agency, we are reviewing the design
maturity, strategy and plans for NASA's next human spacecraft and
agreeing that this is the architecture we are going to build."

Teams representing each subsystem of Orion conducted focused reviews
from February to July before proceeding to the overall vehicle-level
review. The preliminary design review lasted about two months and
included reviewers from all 10 NASA field centers to evaluate the
hundreds of design products delivered by the Lockheed Martin-led
industry partnership.

"The Orion vehicle design is much more mature than you might see on
many programs at the PDR checkpoint because we have worked so closely
with our NASA counterparts every step of the way during the vehicle
design phase," said Cleon Lacefield, vice president and Orion project
manager at Lockheed Martin in Denver. "To date we have completed more
than 300 technical reviews, 100 peer reviews and 18 subsystem design

The PDR process culminated with a review board that concluded Aug. 31
and established the basis for proceeding to the critical design phase
of Orion. Participants identified technical and management challenges
and addressed ways to reduce potential risks as the project goes

NASA will continue the review process with an independent agency-level
evaluation to validate the PDR results and gain formal approval to
transition the project into the next life cycle phase.

For more information about the Orion crew capsule, visit:


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