The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is a spacecraft intended to carry a crew of up to four astronauts to destinations at or beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Currently under development by NASA for launch on the Space Launch System, Orion is currently intended to facilitate human exploration of asteroids and of Mars, as well as to provide a means of delivering or retrieving crew or supplies from the ISS if needed.
The MPCV was announced by NASA on May 24, 2011. Its design is based on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle from the cancelled Constellation program. It has two main modules. The Orion command module is being built by Lockheed Martin at theMichoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Orion service module, provided by the European Space Agency, is being built by Airbus Defence and Space.
The MPCV’s first test flight (uncrewed), known as Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), was launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket on December 5, 2014 on a flight lasting 4 hours and 24 minutes, landing at its target in the Pacific Ocean at 10:29 Central (delayed from the previous day due to technical and weather problems). The first mission to carry astronauts is not expected to take place until 2021 at the earliest.
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