Orion reusability remains elusive for NASA

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This story is sourced from Flight International
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NASA is not expecting to decide at its preliminary design review how reusable the Orion crew exploration vehicle's crew module is or what power levels and system the spacecraft will have.

Instead Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems will assess its water landings' life-cycle cost impact, where the cabin is exposed to "salt-fog" for up to 2h, and only provide a design change plan for reusability at the 10-21 November preliminary design review. Reusability was originally viewed as a major life-cycle cost savings driver.

Remaining power issues have led to a "non-prime [contractor] team" being tasked with the design and analysis of alternate energy demand-based approaches for NASA's systems baseline review planned for 11-12 September. Lockheed is meanwhile charged with finding power reductions.

One Orion project office document obtained by Flight International refers to a need to combine "major vehicle management computer functions" and asks: "When you look at the combined weight and power of the video processing unit...star tracker and centreline camera, is there a better integrated solution?"

NASA was not available for comment. By the time of the preliminary design review, the 22 April CEV project control board meeting's approved 606D design is to be matured to "606E". The preliminary design review will lead into Design Analysis Cycle-3, for which NASA's goal is to achieve a lunar sortie mission Orion design with a gross lift-off weight of 30,255kg (66,500lb) and an International Space Station flight CEV gross lift-off weight of 27,675kg.