Orion 606 CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) (2007)
PRODUCTION RUN: 2007-2011
About the Design
In the early years of the 21st Century, it became painfully obvious that the Space Shuttle's days were numbered. The tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003 accelerated the search for a practical, low-cost replacement for the vulnerable and hugely expensive space-plane, which had been designed in the mid-1970s.
In August 2006, NASA officially announced that Lockheed-Martin would be the prime contractor for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), code-named "Orion." As space-watchers had long expected, the Orion vehicle would be "Apollo on steroids," a capsule- based system with mostly disposable components, save for the Command Module, which could be used on multiple missions. The craft was intended to carry four to six crew members and serve as the primary vehicle for a variety of manned missions ranging from low-earth shuttle flights to the International Space Station to eventual trips to the Moon and, ultimately, to Mars.
In spring 2007, Lockheed-Martin released plans for a modified CEV, dubbed the 606, which was distinguished by its dramatically smaller Service Module designed to minimize the vehicle's mass.
And then, in early 2010, the Obama Administration announced that funding for the Orion Project as well as its Aries booster would be canceled as part of its drive to cut federal spending. America's return to the Moon -- and after that, a mission to Mars -- would be put on indefinite hold while NASA concerned itself with low-orbit manned missions to the International Space Station and automated probes to the planets.
About the Model