Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | The Orion spacecraft may carry more than NASA missions to the Moon

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Selling Orion —

“I’ve long argued that capitalism should not stop at low-Earth orbit.”

  • Image of Orion orbiting the moon during the EM-1 mission. Exterior payloads would be behind the crew capsule, attached to the service module.

    Lockheed Martin

  • This schematic shows the solar panels folded against the Orion service module. There is room for additional payload between the solar panels.


  • Here, the vehicle is shown with its solar panels extended.


  • And one final view.


Lockheed Martin, which is manufacturing the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s deep space missions, plans to study whether some commercial payloads could fly along for the ride toward the Moon. The company says it expects to have some limited capacity inside the Orion spacecraft, as well as space outside the spacecraft for CubeSats, experiments, or other privately developed payloads.

“We’d like to go understand what market interest there would be in using Orion during the exploration missions for commercial, static payloads mounted externally or internally,” Rob Chambers, Lockheed’s director of Human Spaceflight Strategy for Commercial Civil Space, said in an interview with Ars.

Lockheed has partnered with NanoRacks, a company that has helped to commercialize access to the International Space Station, to complete a privately funded study to determine the level of commercial interest in such an opportunity. Once Lockheed completes the market analysis, likely late next spring or early summer, it will meet with the space agency. “NASA is very interested in the data we have, but they’re not committing to doing anything yet,” Chambers said.

In terms of funding, Lockheed would act as something like a broker, identifying commercial deals, integrating the payloads into the Orion spacecraft, for a fee. Much, if not most, of the revenue for any of the commercial payloads would ultimately go to NASA. The company is trying to determine whether payloads could fly as soon as the mid-2020 launch of Orion’s Exploration Mission-1, an uncrewed flight around the Moon.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Orion’s capacity

Although Orion is a fai

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