Orion Crew Capsule

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The Orion Crew Capsule

The Orion Crew Capsule is a spacecraft designed by NASA to carry human beings into Earth orbit and to other planets and moons in our solar system. Designed as part of the Constellation Program, it will replace the Space shuttle as the sole space vehicle used by NASA, and will go into service in 2015.


The Orion capsule will hold four crew members, and be able to dock with other modern spacecraft, including the International Space Station and the Russian Soyuz capsules. China has refused to release sufficient information about their spaceships to allow NASA to ensure compatibility.

While the capsule is capable of orbiting the Earth as an independent spacecraft, it will be joined to the Altair Lander to create a larger spacecraft for travel to other solar system bodies, such as the Moon and Mars.

Unlike the Apollo spacecrafts, in which the Command Module, Service Module, and Lunar Module were all launched as a single spacecraft on a single rocket, the Altair lander and Orion crew capsules are each large enough to require their own separate launches. The completed spacecraft will then be assembled in orbit before continuing on to the destination.

In light of the disaster that befell Space Shuttle Challenger, the Orion capsule will be able to abort during take-off, separating from the Ares V rocket during launch and deploying parachutes.