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Orion test vehicle completes last parachute test

NASA today successfully completed the last parachute test using an Orion test vehicle.

Two quotes tell us all we need to know:

“Orion is our new human exploration spacecraft, and this is a spacecraft that will take people farther in space than we’ve ever gone before,” said [Orion project manager Mark Kirasich].

…This parachute test is the last one for Orion after a decade of development, Kirasich said.

NASA is once again lying about Orion’s capabilities. It will not “take people farther in space than we’ve ever gone before.” It will be able to take humans to the Moon, which is somewhere Americans have been (just in case Kirasich has forgotten.) Beyond that it is totally insufficient for interplanetary flight. It will, on its own, never take anyone anywhere beyond that, and even if it does go beyond lunar orbit, it will do so merely as the return capsule that is part of a much larger vessel.

Secondly, that it took ten years to complete the parachute system for this capsule is truly a joke. The Dragon cargo capsule was built by SpaceX in less than four years. Its manned version could have launched after only two years of work had NASA bureaucrats and Congressional cheapness not gotten in the way. Boeing’s Starliner parachute system was also built in about half that time, and would have been finished sooner had not NASA bureaucrats demanded extra tests, for reasons that have never been made clear.

NASA says it will be launching the first Orion mission to the Moon in 2022, followed by the first Gateway mission in 2024. I am predicting that while the first date might be met (only seven years behind schedule), the second will not. Do not expect the first module to head for the Moon for at least a decade.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Localfluff

    Orion should be able to go to the Earth-Sun Lagrange point number two, four Moon distances from Earth. For example to service the JWST there.
    As things are, however, it could be taken on a truck to the building where the JWST is being stored…

  • Edward_2

    Why is NASA screwed up?

    What can President Trump do to correct NASA’s problems???

  • Edward_2: You might want to download and read my policy paper, Capitalism in Space. It is a good beginning to answer your questions.

  • James Gibson

    I have given up on Orion and SLS. I have tried for three years to get a job at SLS given my 11 years working engineering support for Shuttle and Space station. Yet even though my back ground is unique to manned space flight, and I even worked for Boeing, I can’t even get an interview. Positions are posted and never seem to be filled : particularly the ones that were perfect fits for me. And all I hear are horror stories on how thye are having this problem or that problem. When I heard they were having trouble with friction stir welds I contacted old associates at Boeing Huntington Beach. They had updated the Shuttle tank weld technology to FSW before I was laid-off in the recession. I know those guys, they would not leave then a poor welding system. If they are having trouble with weak welds, someone changed the welding instructions.

    In short I don’t see the SLS flying in 2019 or even 2020. And I don’t see the Democrats finally asking for an investigation into whats going on until 2024.

  • James Gibson: Interesting. Based on what you say, it would not be a surprise if the first launch is a failure. In fact, I am beginning to reminded of the Soviet N1 program, which had good engineers but was badly hampered by poor management, political favoritism and manipulation, and no clear mission.

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