NASA's work to resolve its Orion crew exploration vehicle's (CEV) landing system mass problems is being prolonged as one key study's deadline has been extended by six months, pushed back from March to the CEV's third quarter preliminary design review.
On 16 November 2007 NASA changed the Orion's nominal landing from land to water because of the mass penalty of carrying the necessary airbag system to the Moon and back. But the agency also decided it needed an emergency land landing capability.
On 30 January this year airbag manufacturer ILC Dover
announced that it and parachute specialist Airborne Systems North America would examine until March a combined airbag and flotation system for NASA
for land and water landings.
In its 30 January statement ILC Dover said: "NASA's landing tiger team for [Orion] Design Analysis Cycle-2 will...reassess the nominal landing decision in early March this year," and quotes a 7 January strategy paper by NASA Orion VI block manager John Curry.
NASA has not released the results of that study or its Design Analysis Cycle-2 CEV landing system architecture reassessment that is ongoing with Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
On 23 April NASA told Flight: "The analysis of the design modifications required to support the change in architecture is...ongoing. The outcome of the study is targeted to complete in support of the preliminary design review this [September/October]."