The Orion gap, no not that one, the second one, in 2020

by | Apr 30, 2009 | Seradata News | 9 comments

Thumbnail image for Orion in orbit.jpg

credit NASA/Lockheed Martin / caption: Will this be seen in 2020?

Acting NASA administrator Christopher Scolese made some interesting remarks on 29 April at the Congressional appropriations hearing that Hyperbola thinks could see another human spaceflight gap for the USA at the end of the next decade

The situation is this, Scolese indicated a scaling back of lunar plans that is probably due to the flat line budget for the next five years that the Congress men referred too at the hearing

Scolese also said that the goal is now a low Earth orbit crew and cargo transportation system with some beyond LEO capability but not necessarily an outpost capability (multiple EELV launches and LEO docking based architecture?)

The Hyperbola theory is that with an International Space Station only-capable Orion crew exploration vehicle launched in 2015, due to a flat budget, NASA will still not have a lunar mission capablity by 2020 with no substantial funding having been committed to an Ares V cargo launch vehicle or similar capability before 2015

The extension of ISS operations, now unavoidable because of the long delay in getting Orion up and running and minimising the Space Shuttle, Orion-Ares gap, will see a drain on NASA resources until 2020

Retiring Shuttle in 2010 and station in 2015 or 2016 would have made it easier, with some budget luck, to deliver a Moon capability come 2020 but now ISS is very likely to continue with the additional costs of Russian transportation and the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, Commercial Resupply Services contracts that, if they deliver, will extend out to 2020

NASA has a situation where budget limitations will see a LEO capable Orion become operational in 2015 but its destination will disappear in 2020 and there will be no significant beyond LEO system in place to reach the Moon. Perhaps at some point in the 2020s but not before 2020 Hyperbola would wager

In 2020 Orion could have no place to go 

Scolese mentioned L1 point missions for deep-space space telescope servicing but how often will that be done? Can that justify whatever extra expense is required?

What does a capsule with no human tended microgravity experiment capability do for the years between ISS deorbit in 2020 and a lunar return in, say 2025? Visit the Chinese space station?

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned Seradata database. Trusted by over 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, Seradata is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles




nasaspacexecoreviewsissesaArianespacevideochinaFalcon 9v1.2FT Block 525virgin galacticULAfalcon 9RoscosmosevaDGAspacewalkaviation weekInternational Space StationaressoyuzIGTRocket LabBlue OriginBeidouawardsStarlinkspaceSatellite broadcastingrussiaAirbus DSboeingmoonISROOneWebCargo Return VehiclemarsblogresearchspaceshiptwojaxaorionmarsimpactdelayhyperbolaEutelsatdemocratrocketlunarhypertextobamagoogle lunar prizelaunchVegaSESbarack obamaconstellationtourismnorthfiguresthales alenia spacespaceflightIntelsatnode 2fundedRaymond Lygo2009Lockheed MartinExpress MD-2Elon MuskAtlas Vromess2dassault aviationaviationLucy2008wk2sstlukradiosuborbitaltestmissiledocking portexplorationAriane 5 ECAVirgin OrbitinternetLong March 2D/2sts-122SLSNorthrop GrummanChina Manned Space EngineeringAriane 5missile defensenewspapercotsgalileospace tourismflight2010ElectronLong March 4CspaceportExpress AMU 1buildspace stationaltairsoyuz 2-1aProton Minternational astronautical congressshuttlespace shuttlescaled compositesIntelsat 23European Space AgencyLauncherOneCosmosnew yorkrulesAriane 6hanleybudgetatvVietnamshenzhoucongressMojaveboldennew shepardLong March 2CInmarsatOrbital ATKcnesiaclunar landerGuiana Space CenterkscApollolawsUS Air ForceSpace Systems/LoralUK Space AgencyLong March 4BKuaizhou 1AILSprotondarpaTalulah RileyElectron KSFalcon 9v1.2 Block 5Vega CNorth KoreaeuAstriumSkylonpicturebaseusaastronautdragonlanderfiveeventTelesatSSLAprilSNC50thinterviewLong MarchSea LaunchfalconWednesdaycustomerlinkatlantissuccessor

Stay Informed with Seradata

Stay informed on the latest news, insights, and more from Seradata by signing up for our newsletter.