NASA Announces Next Deep Space Transportation System

26 May

Artist's rendering of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle on a deep space mission. Image credit: John Frassanito & Associates

NASA has reached an important milestone for the next U.S. transportation system that will carry humans into deep space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced today that the system will be based on designs originally planned for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Those plans now will be used to develop a new spacecraft known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

“We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there,” Bolden said. “The NASA Authorization Act lays out a clear path forward for us by handing off transportation to the International Space Station to our private sector partners, so we can focus on deep space exploration. As we aggressively continue our work on a heavy lift launch vehicle, we are moving forward with an existing contract to keep development of our new crew vehicle on track.”

Lockheed Martin Corp. will continue working to develop the MPCV. The spacecraft will carry four astronauts for 21-day missions and be able to land in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The spacecraft will have a pressurized volume of 690 cubic feet, with 316 cubic feet of habitable space. It is designed to be 10 times safer during ascent and entry than its predecessor, the space shuttle.

“This selection does not indicate a business as usual mentality for NASA programs,” said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for the agency’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington. “The Orion government and industry team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions and innovation.”

The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is based on the Orion design requirements for traveling beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The MPCV will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

Spacecraft to serve as the primary crew vehicle for missions beyond LEO Capable of conducting regular in-space operations (rendezvous, docking, extravehicular activity) in conjunction with payloads delivered by SLS for missions beyond LEO Capability to be a backup system for ISS cargo and crew delivery.


Posted by on May 26, 2011 in News Article, Science


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3 responses to “NASA Announces Next Deep Space Transportation System

  1. charlesmichelduke

    May 27, 2011 at 6:51 am

    I think it is a good idea that we are finally going to use the ISS as a staging post. It would certainly justify the cost of it!

    I also hope that we really do get to further explore our Solar System. And while the technology proposed is probably no good for travel to nearby star systems, it is good to get the training underway for long term space travel.

    Plus, we also get to see more of the universe – yey!

    • Craig & Joe

      May 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

      I totally agree. I just wish they’d hurry up so I can have a chance to see the far reaches of the galaxy!

  2. in every atom

    May 28, 2011 at 4:35 am

    I am glad they are working on a replaced for the shuttle. It was due such a very long time ago. I am always nervous when the shuttle launches into space. Any ideas on when the new spacecraft will be operational?


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