Successor to the Space Shuttle Program: The Orion Spacecraft

Orion Spacecraft

The Orion Spacecraft

The launch and return of NASA space shuttle Discovery mission STS-13, which launched on February 24th, 2011 and made its return landing on March 9th, 2011, marked the end of NASA’s space shuttle program.  But what does the end of the space shuttle program mean?  What will be its successor?

One of the primary goals of the space shuttle program was to develop a spacecraft that could safely and cost-effectively complete several space missions.  By developing a spacecraft that was in a large part reusable, NASA scientists and engineers believed there would be significant cost savings.  Unfortunately, the safety of the Space Shuttle turned out to be an issue, with the Challenger and the Columbia disasters being the most significant examples.  These disasters not only reduced the cost-effectiveness of a space shuttle since a destroyed shuttle would be unable to be used for its target useful life, but also had significant costs in terms of human lives.  As a result, the Space Shuttle program has ended and a new successor will take its place, attempting to be a more effective spacecraft for undertaking various missions.

Orion Spacecraft Construction

The Orion Spacecraft being Constructed

The follow up to the Space Shuttle is called the Orion spacecraft, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin and  actually more closely resembles the spacecraft used in the 1960’s such as the Apollo command module.  Rather than focusing on a spacecraft that can be reusable like the space shuttle, one of the goals of the Orion project is to create a vessel that will allow for human space travel to farther destinations.  One such destination would be the planet Mars – it is possible that the Orion spacecraft will allow for travel to Mars in the not-so-distant future.

Share This Article!

3 Responses to “Successor to the Space Shuttle Program: The Orion Spacecraft”

  • john Cornwell says:

    Why has It taken so long to develop the space shuttles replacement.


  • Natalia says:

    @ :I rbmmeeer all those things too. I rbmmeeer the fire that killed the astronauts. On the pad. Horrific. And the other awful catastrophic events. From each one, the space program learned and got better. Tough lessons, though.The space shuttle program is moving to the private sector, for the most part. Already there are some companies that have developed similar air craft. Of course, the *rides* can only be purchased by the very very very wealthy. But one of those companies may go commercial to fill in this niche. Haven’t needed to until now.The space program is looking at Moon again and Mars! The space station is still operational, so there is still the need for transportation to and from there.


  • Randall Scott Redman says:

    I truly missed out on seeing the whole Kennedy Space Center. Going into one of the buildings I blacked out. The NASA Paramedics were called (I still don’t know how long I was out) They wanted to take me to the NASA Hospital believe it or not. Isn’t that something?


Leave a Comment