Goodbye shuttles, hello MPCV!
As shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) serves the final moments of its last mission to space (STS-134), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces the plans for the future of space travel.
On May 24th, 2011, NASA confirmed that the vehicle it will use to send astronauts into deep space will be based on its Orion capsule concept. Those plans now will be used to develop a new spacecraft known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). The MPCV will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
According to BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos, President Obama has said he would like humans to visit a space rock in the 2020’s. The MPCV would be the ship that takes them there. It would also have a role in any human mission to Mars – the destination NASA is aiming to reach in perhaps the 2030’s.
We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there (…). “The NASA Authorization Act lays out a clear path forward for us by handing off transportation to the International Space Station to our private sector partners, so we can focus on deep space exploration. As we aggressively continue our work on a heavy lift launch vehicle, we are moving forward with an existing contract to keep development of our new crew vehicle on track: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
NASA reports Lockheed Martin Corp. will continue working to develop the MPCV. The spacecraft will carry four astronauts for 21-day missions and be able to land in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The spacecraft will have a pressurized volume of 690 cubic feet, with 316 cubic feet of habitable space. It is designed to be 10 times safer during ascent and entry than its predecessor, the space shuttle.
May 25th, 2011.