Friday, February 5, 2010

Lockheed Responds to Orion Cancellation

Lockheed Martin Responds To The FY2011 NASA Budget Proposal To Cancel Orion

Bethesda, MD, February 3rd, 2010 -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) today released the following statement regarding the FY2011 budget request to cancel the Orion Project as part of NASA’s Constellation Program:

We are keenly disappointed in the Administration's budget proposal for NASA that would cancel Project Orion as part of an elimination of NASA's Constellation Program. Orion’s maturity is evident in its readiness for a first test flight in a matter of weeks. In fact, Orion can be ready for crewed flights to low Earth orbit and other exploration missions as early as 2013, thus narrowing the gap in U.S. human space flight capability when the shuttle is retired later this year.

Significant investment has already been made by the nation and private industry in Orion, which is human rated to provide a level of safety unmatched by any previous or currently proposed crewed vehicles. Nearly 4,000 people at more than 500 commercial companies and hundreds of small business suppliers across the country have worked diligently on the Orion project to support the nation's human space flight efforts. New facilities have been built and others upgraded. Innovative technologies such as a launch abort system, autonomous rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life support systems, state of the art solar power and avionics systems have been incorporated. And the next-generation of engineers, scientists, teachers and students, so critical to America's future, has been inspired. Cancellation of Orion would sacrifice these capabilities and accomplishments.

The President's budget proposal will, of course, be reviewed by Congress and ultimately will require Congressional approval. As the budget process moves forward, Lockheed Martin is committed to working with Congress, the Administration and NASA to ensure a safe, viable and robust space exploration program that does not cede U.S. leadership in space.


Douglas Mallette said...

In summary: Ugh. Big fat aerospace company don't want to lose big fat government contract to those pesky upstart NewSpace companies.

Ugh no happy. Smash!

Marcel F. Williams said...

But this has nothing to do with NASA's support of private launch companies since NASA's only giving private companies a tiny amount of their manned space flight budget. And I believe Boeing has received the most money out of that, so far!

Orion is really a deep space vehicle, something private companies are not investing in. The theory was, NASA should leave LEO to the private companies and explore beyond LEO. Now suddenly, Obama and Bolden terminate the Crew Exploratory Vehicle needed to do that.

But in reality, because of the dangers of cosmic radiation and solar events, the Orion would probably be limited to flights between the Earth and the Moon and the Langrange points. And I believe that Bolden is more interested in developing future technologies to go to Mars.

Marcel F. Williams said...

I would further argue that the Orion is probably the only component of the Constellation system that could be attractive to private industry as long as their rocket boosters were capable of lifting at least 22 tonnes into orbit.

Passenger safety is probably going to make or break a private commercial launch company. And being able to purchase a government certified space craft from Lockheed could be an advantage.

A second advantage for a private commercial launch company would be that the Orion would be capable of missions to lunar orbit or to a Lagrange point with a reusable OTV (orbital transfer vehicle) for tourist trips to the Moon via a reusable lunar lander.

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