The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: This essay, written in July 2016, might provide modern readers with some background and context into the uselessness of NASA’s over priced, over designed, and behind schedule Orion capsule. The only thing that has changed in the four years since is that NASA has stopped claiming Orion is an interplanetary spaceship. They now freely admit that to get to Mars they need to build and assemble much larger ships, of which Orion will only be a tiny part.
The Lie that is Orion
Several weeks ago NASA put out one of its periodic press releases touting the wonders of the engineering the agency is doing to prepare for its future missions to Mars. In this case the press release described a new exercise device, dubbed ROCKY (for Resistive Overload Combined with Kinetic Yo-Yo), for use in the Orion capsule.
“ROCKY is an ultra-compact, lightweight exercise device that meets the exercise and medical requirements that we have for Orion missions,” said Gail Perusek, deputy project manager for NASA’s Human Research Program’s Exploration Exercise Equipment project. “The International Space Station’s exercise devices are effective but are too big for Orion, so we had to find a way to make exercising in Orion feasible.
As is their habit these days in their effort to drum up support for funding for SLS and Orion, the press release was filled with phrases and statements that implied or claimed that Orion was going to be the spacecraft that Americans will use to explore the solar system.
…engineers across NASA and industry are working to build the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket that will venture to deep space for the first time together…
…Over the next several years, NASA’s Human Research Program will be refining the device to optimize it not only for near-term Orion missions with crew, but for potential uses on future long-duration missions in Orion…
These are only two examples. I have clipped them because both were very carefully phrased to allow NASA deniablity should anyone question these claims. For example, in the first quote they qualify “deep space” as specifically the 2018 unmanned lunar test flight. And the second quote is qualified as referring to missions to lunar space. Nonetheless, the implied intent of this wording is to sell Orion as America’s interplanetary spaceship, destined to take us to the stars!