The flight software for NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV) has been identified as a risk to the agency's Constellation programme schedule.

NASA's software community has estimated that Orion will have over one million lines of code. With a need for "thousands of developer years" to complete Orion's software verification NASA concluded that it needs to phase its implementation.

NASA and its prime contractor Lockheed Martin have been identifying software functionality and what can be written in later. This phasing plan is not expected to be completed by the CEV's preliminary design review expected in the third quarter. Examples of this phasing include the deletion of functions not needed for the CEV's maiden unmanned launch, Orion 1, or for the 2015 first crewed flight Orion 2. Automation will also be eliminated where operations can be conducted manually either by onboard crew or from mission control.

A NASA software document passed to Flight International says, "The spacecraft does not have to be fully autonomous for [Orion 2] only automation for time to criticality functions which do not allow for human response [is needed]."

Source: Flight International