Crew Exploration Vehicle

The Crew Exploration Vehicle (or CEV) was the conceptual component of the U.S. NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy which was announced on January 14, 2004 by President George W. Bush. It is seen as a response to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the state of human spaceflight at NASA, and a way to regain public enthusiasm for space...

 that later became known as the Orion
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

 spacecraft. The Orion CEV was part of NASA's Constellation Program to send human explorers back to the Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

, and then onward to Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 and other destinations in the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...


Official planning for the vehicle began in 2004, with the final Request For Proposal issued on March 1, 2005, to begin a design competition for the vehicle. For the later design and construction phases, see: Orion (spacecraft)
Orion (spacecraft)
Orion is a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin for NASA, the space agency of the United States. Orion development began in 2005 as part of the Constellation program, where Orion would fulfill the function of a Crew Exploration Vehicle....

. NASA has posted project status notes at the website, under the name "Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle" (see External links, below).


The concept for the vehicle was officially announced in a speech given by George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 at NASA Headquarters
NASA Headquarters
Two Independence Square, often referenced as NASA Headquarters, is a low-rise building in the two-building Independence Square complex at 300 E Street SW in Washington D.C. The building houses NASA leadership who provide overall guidance and direction to the US government executive branch agency...

 on January 14, 2004.
The Draft Statement of Work for the CEV was issued by NASA on December 9, 2004, and slightly more than one month later, on January 21, 2005, NASA issued a Draft Request For Proposal (RFP). The Final RFP was issued on March 1, 2005, with the potential bidders being asked to answer by May 2, 2005.

NASA had planned to have a suborbital or an Earth orbit fly-off called Flight Application of Spacecraft Technologies (FAST) between two teams' CEV designs before September 1, 2008. However, in order to permit an earlier date for the start of CEV operations, Administrator Michael Griffin had indicated that NASA would select one contractor for the CEV in 2006. From his perspective, this would both help eliminate the currently planned four-year gap between the retirement of the Shuttle in 2010 and the first manned flight of the CEV in 2014 (by allowing the CEV to fly earlier), and save over $1 billion for use in CEV development.

On June 13, 2005, NASA announced the selection of two consortia, Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

 Corp. and the team of Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American global aerospace and defense technology company formed by the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company was the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world as of 2010, and the largest builder of naval vessels. Northrop Grumman employs over...

 Corp. and The Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 Co. for further CEV development work. Each team had received a US$28 million contract to come up with a complete design for the CEV and its launch vehicle until August 2006, when NASA would award one of them the task of building the CEV. The teams would also have to develop a plan for their CEV to take part in the assembly of a lunar expedition, either with an Earth orbit rendezvous
Earth orbit rendezvous
Earth orbit rendezvous is a type of space rendezvous and a spaceflight methodology most notable for enabling round trip human missions to the moon...

, a lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous is a key concept for human landing on the Moon and returning to Earth.In a LOR mission a main spacecraft and a smaller lunar module travel together into lunar orbit. The lunar module then independently descends to the lunar surface. After completion of the mission there, a...

, or with a direct ascent
Direct ascent
Direct ascent was a proposed method for a mission to the Moon. In the United States, direct ascent proposed using the enormous Nova rocket to launch a spacecraft directly to the Moon, where it would land tail-first and then launch off the Moon back to Earth...

. The two teams were composed of:
  • Northrop Grumman associated with Boeing as subcontractor for the Spiral One, Alenia Spazio, ARES Corporation, Draper Laboratory
    Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
    Draper Laboratory is an American not-for-profit research and development organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Draper focuses on the design, development, and deployment of advanced technology solutions to problems in national security, space exploration, health care and energy.Originally...

     and United Space Alliance
    United Space Alliance
    United Space Alliance is a spaceflight operations company. USA is a joint venture which was established in August 1995 as a Limited Liability Company , equally owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The company is headquartered in Houston, Texas and, employed approximately 8,800 people in Texas,...

  • Lockheed Martin associated with EADS SPACE Transportation
    EADS SPACE Transportation
    EADS Astrium Space Transportation was formed in June 2003 from the Space Infrastructure division of Astrium and the EADS Launch Vehicles division . Until July 2006 it was called EADS Space Transportation and was a fully owned subsidiary of EADS Space...

    , United Space Alliance
    United Space Alliance
    United Space Alliance is a spaceflight operations company. USA is a joint venture which was established in August 1995 as a Limited Liability Company , equally owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The company is headquartered in Houston, Texas and, employed approximately 8,800 people in Texas,...

    , Aerojet
    Aerojet is an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer based primarily in Rancho Cordova, California with divisions in Redmond, Washington, Orange, Gainesville and Camden, Arkansas. Aerojet is owned by GenCorp. They are the only US propulsion company that provides both solid rocket...

    , Honeywell
    Honeywell International, Inc. is a major conglomerate company that produces a variety of consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments....

    , Orbital Sciences, Hamilton Sundstrand
    United Technologies Corporation
    United Technologies Corporation is an American multinational conglomerate headquartered in the United Technologies Building in Hartford, Connecticut...

    , and Wyle Laboratories
    Wyle Laboratories
    Wyle is a privately held provider of specialized engineering, scientific and technical services to the Department of Defense, NASA, and a variety of commercial customers primarily in the aerospace industry...

     (awarded the contract August 31, 2006).

Each contractor-led team included subcontractors that provided the lunar expedition astronauts with equipment, life support, rocket engines, and onboard navigation systems. The planned orbital or suborbital fly-offs under FAST would have seen the competition of a CEV built by each team, or of a technology demonstrator incorporating CEV technologies. Under FAST, NASA would have chosen the winner to build the final CEV after actual demonstration of this hardware. Fly-offs are often used by the U.S. Air Force to select military aircraft; NASA has never used this approach in awarding contracts. However, as Administrator Griffin had indicated he would abandon the FAST approach, NASA pursued the more traditional approach of selecting a vehicle based on the contractors' proposals.

On August 31, 2006, NASA announced that the contract to design and develop the Orion was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. According to Bloomberg News, five analysts it surveyed prior to the award announcement tipped the Northrop team to win. Marco Caceres, a space industry analyst with Teal Group, had projected that Lockheed would lose, partly because of Lockheed Martin's earlier failure on the $912 million X-33 shuttle replacement program; after the contract award he suggested that Lockheed Martin's work on the X-33 gave it more recent research and development experience in propulsion and materials, which may have helped it win the contract. According to an Aerospace Daily & Defense Report summary of a NASA document explaining the rationale for the contract award, the Lockheed Martin proposal won on the basis of a superior technical approach, lower and more realistic cost estimates, and exceptional performance on Phase I of the CEV program.

Lockheed Martin plans to manufacture the manned spacecraft at facilities in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The program manager is Cleon Lacefield
Cleon Lacefield
T. Cleon Lacefield is Lockheed Martin vice president and Orion Program manager.With his Lockheed Martin team in Denver and Houston, he won the CEV / Orion development contract from NASA in September 2006.-Career:...


Original designs

Lockheed's proposed craft was a small shuttle-shaped lifting-body design, big enough for six astronauts and their equipment. Its airplane-shaped design made it easier to navigate during high-speed returns to Earth than the capsule-shaped vehicles of the past, according to Lockheed Martin. According to the French daily Le Figaro
Le Figaro
Le Figaro is a French daily newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. It is one of three French newspapers of record, with Le Monde and Libération, and is the oldest newspaper in France. It is also the second-largest national newspaper in France after Le Parisien and before Le Monde, but...

and the publication Aviation Week and Space Technology, EADS SPACE Transportation would be in charge of the design and construction of the associated Mission Module (MM). The head of the Lockheed team was Cleon Lacefield
Cleon Lacefield
T. Cleon Lacefield is Lockheed Martin vice president and Orion Program manager.With his Lockheed Martin team in Denver and Houston, he won the CEV / Orion development contract from NASA in September 2006.-Career:...

. The Lockheed Martin design was quite similar to their OSP design, but has some slight changes, mainly the presence of the mission module.

The Lockheed Martin CEV design included several modules in the LEO (low earth orbit) and manned lunar versions of the spacecraft, plus an abort system. The abort system was an escape tower like that used in the Mercury, Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

, Soyuz, and Shenzhou
Shenzhou spacecraft
Shenzhou is a spacecraft developed and operated by the People's Republic of China to support its manned spaceflight program. The name is variously translated as "Divine Craft," "Divine Vessel of God," "Magic Boat" or similar and is also homophonous with an ancient name for China...

 craft (Gemini, along with the Space Shuttles Enterprise and Columbia [until STS-4
STS-4 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, using the Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched on 27 June 1982 and landed a week later on 4 July. STS-4 was the fourth shuttle mission overall, and was also the fourth mission for the Columbia.-Crew:...

] used ejection seats). It would be capable of an abort during any part of the ascent phase of the mission. The crew would sit in the Rescue Module (RM) during launch. According to the publication Aviation Week and Space Technology, the RM would have an outer heat shield of reinforced carbon-carbon
Reinforced carbon-carbon
Carbon fibre-reinforced carbon is a composite material consisting of carbon fibre reinforcement in a matrix of graphite. It was developed for the nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and is most widely known as the material for the nose cone and wing leading edges of the Space Shuttle...

 and a redundant layer of felt reusable surface insulation underneath in case of RCC failure. The RM comprised the top half of the Crew Module (CM), which comprised the RM and the rest of the lifting-body structure. The CM included living space for four crew members. In an emergency the RM separates from the rest of the CM. The RM would seat up to six crew members, with two to a row, and the CM has living space and provisions for four astronauts for 5–7 days. Extra-Vehicular Activities
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

 (EVAs) could be conducted from the CM, which could land on land or water and could be reused 5–10 times.

The mission module would be added to the bottom of the CEV for a lunar mission, and would be able to hold extra consumables and provide extra space for a mission of lunar duration. It would also provide extra power and communications capabilities, and include a docking port for the Lunar Surface Access Module
Lunar Surface Access Module
The Altair spacecraft, previously known as the Lunar Surface Access Module or LSAM, was the planned lander spacecraft component of NASA's cancelled Project Constellation. Astronauts would have used the spacecraft for landings on the Moon, which had been intended to begin around 2019...

 (LSAM). On the bottom of the lunar CEV stack would be the Propulsion or Trans-Earth Injection Module (TEIM) which would provide for return to the Earth from the Moon. It would probably incorporate (according to Aviation Week) 2 Pratt & Whitney RL-10 engines. Together, the RM/CM, MM, and TEIM made up the Lockheed Martin lunar stack. The original idea was to launch the CM, MM, and TEIM on three separate Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs), with one component in each launch. This vehicle would need additional modules to reach lunar orbit and to land on the Moon. However, this plan was to be altered according to the CFI (Call for Improvements), described below.

Unlike the well-publicized Lockheed Martin CEV design, virtually no information was publicly available on the Boeing/Northrop Grumman CEV design. However, it is instructive to note that most publicly released Boeing designs for the canceled Orbital Space Plane
Orbital Space Plane
The Orbital Space Plane program was a NASA concept designed to support the International Space Station requirements for crew rescue, crew transport and contingency cargo such as supplies, food and other needed equipment...

 (OSP) resembled the Apollo capsule. Given that Lockheed Martin's CEV design was in many ways a derivative of their OSP, it was possible that the Boeing CEV is a capsule rather than a lifting body or plane design.

Changes to original bids

Sean O'Keefe
Sean O'Keefe
Sean O'Keefe is the CEO of EADS North America, a subsidiary of the European aerospace firm EADS, a former Administrator of NASA, and former chancellor of Louisiana State University . O'Keefe is also a former member of the board of directors of DuPont...

's strategy would have seen the CEV development in two distinct phases. Phase I would have involved the design of the CEV and a demonstration by the potential contractors that they could safely and affordably develop the vehicle. Phase I would have run from bid submissions in 2005 to FAST and downselect to one contractor. Phase II would have begun after FAST and involved final design and construction of the CEV. However, this schedule was unacceptably slow to Mike Griffin, and the plan was changed such that NASA will issue a "Call for Improvements" (CFI) after the release of the ESAS for Lockheed Martin and Boeing to submit Phase II proposals. NASA chose Lockheed Martin's consortium as the winning consortium on August 31, 2006. Therefore, the CEV bids submitted and described above are not necessarily representative of the final CEV design, as they will be changed in accordance with the CFI and any findings of the ESAS that are put into the CFI.

External links

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