Orion (spacecraft)

crewed spacecraft designed for the Artemis program

Orion, full name: Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or Orion MPCV, is a spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin for NASA.

An artist's picture of the Orion spacecraft
ManufacturerLockheed Martin
Country of originUnited States of America
ApplicationsBeyond LEO exploration[1]
Spacecraft typeSpace capsule
Design life21 days, 2 hours and 24 minutes[2]
Launch massCapsule: 10,387 kilograms (22,899 pounds)
Service module: 15,461 kilograms (34,086 pounds)
Total: 25,848 kilograms (56,985 pounds)
Crew capacity2–6[3]
Dimensions3.3 by 5 metres (11 by 16 feet)
VolumePressurized: 19.56 kilometres (12.15 miles)[4]
Habitable: 8.95 m3 (316 cu ft)
First launchDecember 5, 2014
Related spacecraft
Derived from
Drawing of the Orion spacecraft. The capsule in the picture, is an early design version of Orion.

One of those flew into space (and back to Earth), as late as 2022's fourth quarter. That mission lasted 25 days. There were no astronauts on the flight.

A spaceflight with astronauts is planned for, no earlier than 2025's third quarter.

Each Orion spacecraft will be able to carry up to six[3] astronauts. The Orion vehicle will be launched on the Space Launch System.[5] The first launch (Exploration Flight Test-1) was on the Delta IV Heavy.[6]

Orion is meant to take humans to the Moon and Mars.


An artist mockup of the Space Launch System

Orion was first made for the Constellation program in 2004, as the Orion CEV (Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle). It was meant to be launched on the Ares I rocket. Then it would be able to go to the International Space Station. It was also planned to go to a spacecraft launched in pieces on different Ares V rockets, and the spacecraft with the Orion would go to the Moon, Mars, or another place.

In October, 2010, Constellation was cancelled. They created a new program and a new rocket called the Space Launch System, and changed the name of Orion to the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.[7]

The only launch of the Ares I, Ares I-X. This did not have an Orion spacecraft and did not go to orbit


  1. "NASA Authorization Act of 2010". Thomas.loc.gov. Archived from the original on December 19, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  2. Bergin, Chris (July 10, 2012). "NASA ESD set key Orion requirement based on Lunar missions". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Moskowitz, Clara (November 2014). "Deep Space or Bust". Scientific American. 311 (6): 20. Bibcode:2014SciAm.311f..20M. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1214-20.
  4. "Orion Quick facts" (PDF). NASA. August 4, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 3, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  5. "Preliminary Report Regarding NASA's Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle" (PDF). NASA. January 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  6. Fountain, Henry (December 5, 2014). "NASA's Orion Spacecraft Splashes Down in Pacific After Test Flight". New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  7. "NASA Moon and Mars". nasa.gov. 25 June 2018. Archived from the original on 2021-04-07. Retrieved 2019-05-21.

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