This Blog is Dedicated to Celebrating Human Achievement.

Are you as tired as I am of seeing 'news' that is mostly tragedy, celebrity gossip and politicians arguing about the same old things? I want to read about breakthroughs in cancer research - not some guy who shot a bunch of people at a Starbucks.

If you feel the same, check in here to find out more about the things that individuals, groups and all of us are doing to progress, explore, create, achieve and make the world a better place than it was yesterday.

Initially, I'd like to cover some basic, general stories, but as I get my feet under me, I'd like to explore some of those stories in more detail and eventually move into breaking news related to those topics. Bookmark, follow, share with your friends and keep in touch to let me know what stories interest you most.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Orion Spacecraft

In July 2011 an era ended when the Space Shuttle flew its last mission - STS 135.  So what's next?

The Orion Spacecraft has been touted as the shuttles 'replacement', but I'm not sure if that's an accurate description because Orion will have very different capabilities than the shuttles.

Superficially, the Orion 'crew module' appears very similar to the Apollo capsule, but it is scaled up in a way that isn't visually obvious.  The crew module will have 2.5 times the interior volume of the Apollo capsule and will be able to support a crew of up to six astronauts compared the Apollo maximum of three.  Like the Apollo craft, the Orion will also have a 'service module' to accompany the actual capsule.

While the Orion may, because of its similarity to Apollo, seem a 'step back' from the shuttle, it incorporates vastly superior technology and capabilities and is the product of lessons learned from both the Shuttle and Apollo programs. One notable advance over the Apollo craft is a 'launch abort system' that encloses the crew module and can pull the module off the launcher and to safety in the event of an emergency during launch.

The idea of a reusable space 'plane' seemed very attractive forty years ago when the Shuttle was first conceived, but the time and cost associated with reconditioning the spacecraft for flight after each mission made the efficiency and apparent cost savings of such a system questionable.  The shuttle also anchored us to near-earth orbit, because while it performed it's primary task of building and servicing the space-station reasonably well, it was never designed for deep-space missions.

Like the Apollo craft, Orion would have the ability to leave Earth's orbit and is designed to perform missions to the moon, near-earth objects (such as asteroids or comets), and, eventually, Mars.

Orion is currently undergoing extensive testing and on-schedule for it's first unmanned mission in 2014.

You can learn more about Orion and track its progress at NASA's website  and you can also find links there to follow them on Twitter, Facebook etc.