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NASA Names New Spaceship 'Orion' 132

An anonymous reader writes "NASA's new spaceship that will carry astronauts to the moon and later to Mars has been officially named Orion. NASA confirmed the name after it was accidentally leaked to the media. Previously called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), Orion will be NASA's main human spaceflight vehicle after the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010. Orion was named after one of the brightest constellations in the entire sky. Earlier this year, the rocket that will launch Orion was named Ares I, and the heavy-lift rocket was named Ares V. NASA hopes the new names will become as familiar as Apollo and Saturn V."
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NASA Names New Spaceship 'Orion'

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  • to beware orion's belt
  • Stargate? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nonother ( 845183 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:30AM (#15963344)
    I suppose it's fitting. We got the shuttle Enterprise after Star Trek, now Orion after Stargate? However, I have a feeling it's going to be less reliable than Ancient technology.
    • Re:Stargate? (Score:5, Informative)

      by d_strand ( 674412 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:41AM (#15963436)
      you kids these days :-)

      Besides a constelation, Orion is also a well known space project from the 70s which dealt with nuclear propulsion (wiki [wikipedia.org]).
    • Nah, "Masters of Orion".
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, they are continuing the tradition of taking prominent spaceship names from TV SF series. The Orion featured in the German 'Raumpatrouille' (Space Patrol).

      Watch for Cmdr McLane!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      But then, there have been 8 ships in the USA Navy with the name Enterprise as well as 14 Enterprise ships for Britian's Royal Navy. Its certainly not exclusive to the Trek 'oh Stars Orion though... well thats just a blatant attempt to snag fans from the Stargates... or perhaps fans of Greek mythological hunters.
      • But then, there have been 8 ships in the USA Navy with the name Enterprise as well as 14 Enterprise ships for Britian's Royal Navy. Its certainly not exclusive to the Trek 'oh Stars
        Actually, back when NASA showed Enterprise for the first time, they invited the cast of Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry and played the theme from the original series during the roll-out.
    • But will it get blown up in a fight against the Wraith? I think it may have a chance to blow up all on its own thanks to our "Low Bidder" technology :)
    • "We got the shuttle Enterprise after Star Trek, now Orion after Stargate?"

      After Stargate? Every kid that's ever written a sci-fi story has called the ship 'Orion'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 )
      However, I have a feeling it's going to be less reliable than Ancient technology.

      Well, lets be honest, ancient technology was built to last. Anything that broke easily isn't around anymore.
    • by MoFoQ ( 584566 )
      or that after the classic game "Master of Orion"....maybe this is the first step in space colonization.

      the good thing...at least they didn't name it Prometheus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus) who was condemned to eternal suffering (also the name of the first X303 ship in the Stargate SG-1 universe) or Icarus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus_%28mythology% 29) who's wings melted and he fell to his doom when he got too close to the Sun.
      Or even "Titanic" among other doomed ship names.
      • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
        Don't stop at Wikipedia, it's a starting point ! Zeus bound Promethus as punishment for sharing fire with us humans; but eventually Zeus relented and hinted to his son, Heracles, that it wouldn't be terrible if 'someone' freed him (hint hint). So Heracles killed the eagle, freed the god, and there was much rejoicing. See Theogony, line 526-543.

        "And ready- witted Prometheus he bound with inextricable bonds, cruel chains, and drove a shaft through his middle, and set on him a long- winged eagle, which used t
        • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          And the story is even (mostly) correct in Wikipedia and I didn't fix it! What's basic reading comprehension skills coming to?!
    • by jerky42 ( 264624 )
      No, I am sure it was not after Stargate. If you had ever been to NASA, you would know that this is what they ALL are listening to.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_the_Hunter_(ban d) [wikipedia.org]

    • Orion is the name for the ship type. The name of each ship will be different - so you could have an Orion 'class' interplanetary space ship named 'Enterprise' etc...
    • by BigRare ( 187855 )
      I suppose it's fitting. We got the shuttle Enterprise after Star Trek, now Orion after Stargate? However, I have a feeling it's going to be less reliable than Ancient technology.
      Uh, didn't the shuttle Enterprise AND the one from Star Trek get the name from the long tradition of naming the first vessel in its class by the name Enterprise?
      • The shuttle was named Enterprise because of a massive campaign by Star Trek fans to have it named such.
    • by thm76 ( 718345 )

      The first thing that came to my mind was an old German TV series: Raumpatrouille Orion [wikipedia.org]. According to the German Wikipedia entry the Orion in Stargate Atlantis is actually a reference to this German TV series.

      If I remember correctly they had some interesting stage settings which, among other things, included a flat iron which was part of the command centre and was used to steer the ship.

    • Because it's a reusage of Ancient technology, refitted and improved of course... :)
  • by colonslashslash ( 762464 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:32AM (#15963357) Homepage
    This is proof! A tribute to the recently cancelled SG-1 (although the Orion was part of the Atlantis spin off)


    http://gateworld.net/omnipedia/ships/links/orion.s html [gateworld.net]


    Oh look, some straws... I must clutch at them wildly.

    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman@gm3.14ail.com minus pi> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:37AM (#15963404) Homepage Journal
      This is proof! A tribute to the recently cancelled SG-1 (although the Orion was part of the Atlantis spin off)

      Atlantis is assigned the Dadaelus. The Prometheus was Earth's primary defense. The Orion took her place after the Prometheus's destruction.
      • The Orion was also what the Atlantis crew named the Ancient ship they found (before it went... SPOILER!!! boom)
      • Yep, you are correct man. I only hope they dish out some sweet and tasty revenge on the Ori for their part in destroying the Prometheus before the season runs out.


        Ahhh, If Shepherd had his way, the Orion would have been called The Enterprise (damn you McKay). Same as if O'Neill had his wish, the Prometheus would have been too.

        • Yep, you are correct man. I only hope they dish out some sweet and tasty revenge on the Ori for their part in destroying the Prometheus before the season runs out.

          Actually, now it's me who's confused. The Prometheus replacement is the Odyssey. You and the other poster are correct about the Atlantis Orion.

          Ahhh, If Shepherd had his way, the Orion would have been called The Enterprise (damn you McKay). Same as if O'Neill had his wish, the Prometheus would have been too.

          It's become something of a running gag on

    • Not near as much use for them when you find out you can go between worlds by jumping through water-filled rusty hoops.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, this may be a 2001 reference. Orion was the shuttle that Floyd took from Earth to the space station. Aries was the ship he took from the station to the moon base.
    • by Briareos ( 21163 )
      NASA Loves Stargate - and Stargate likes an old German TV show from the seventies [orionspace.de]:

      Translation of a German interview with Peter deLuise [livejournal.com]

      At the end of the tour Peter explains to me: "Now I tell you a few spoilers, but that's ok. *spoilers removed* But now we have this new spaceship you just saw. The Atlantis crew finds it in an underground hangar under the volcano. And now guess what this baby is called!" "??????" "You talked that much about this old German SciFi show in all these years that we called the ship

  • The wrong name (Score:5, Interesting)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:32AM (#15963362) Journal
    Project Orion [wikipedia.org] is already well known as the name of a hypothetical propulsion method that uses nuclear explosions to literally blast the vehicle forward. As this new project seems entirely unrelated it's a bit inappropriate to take this name. The original Project Orion has had that name for decades and it's had a few reputable names behind it so we're not just talking about stealing a name from some crackpot's pet project.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the article above say the "vehicle" was officially named Orion. The project, as you so pointed out, was already named Orion, but they apparently hadn't release what the vehicle was going to be called? Although common sense would tell you.
      • If you look at the Slashdot article link from July that I posted a bit up the way, you'll see this:

        "Under Project Orion, NASA would launch crews of four astronauts aboard Orion capsules, first to Earth orbit and the International Space Station and then later to the Moon."

        Thus, both the project itself and the vehicles are called Orion.

        Further, from the July 20th Space.com article there is this:

        NASA intends to use the moniker Orion as both the title for its next generation manned craft, the Crew Exploration V
    • The orion project with directed nuclear propulsion is well...sort of over. If we maintained such religious dedication and respect for all names, then we wouldn't really be able to name anything at all.

      This is a troll response I admit. Seriously, we need to name it something. Orion sounds just fine to me, it has a nice ring to it.

      What about the video game series: Masters of Orion. I loved MOO3 for quite a while, despite it's debilitating and stupid AI that made the game unplayable. After a few hundred
      • The problem is, Orion is a really well known name. We don't really want to reuse Saturn, Apollo, or Mercury for similar reasons.
        • Yup. Just about every book (and many web sites) on alternative propulsion and interstellar travel discusses the original Orion project at some point. What's more, the new project is similar enough to be confusing (they're both about long range propulsion of humans) but not close enough to be considered the same thing. Calling a Mars rover 'Orion', say, would be fine. And it's not like there's a shortage of mythological characters with great sounding names.
          • And it's not like there's a shortage of mythological characters with great sounding names.

            I wonder why they keep going for the Roman and Greek names. It's not like the Babylonians, Aztecs, Indians, Egyptians or Norse were short of gods. And those are just the well known cultures.
      • by qeveren ( 318805 )
        After a few hundred turns...it got to be a bit stupid as you simply could not avoid war.

        That's because it's game-AI, not simulation-AI. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ILikeRed ( 141848 )
      And maybe they are fans of what Larry Niven did with the idea [technovelgy.com].

      Also, don't forget the Master of Orion [wikipedia.org] video game - which has a fitting theme.

      Oh, to be able to live on Mars....
    • by The_REAL_DZA ( 731082 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:47AM (#15963516)
      Perhaps, but to date only Slim Pickens [imdb.com] has actually ridden a nuclear bomb anywhere (and he rode his straight down...) so there's not likely to be the kind of cutthroat controversy usually reserved for the Astronomers -vs- Geologists.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      Project Orion is already well known as the name of a hypothetical propulsion method...

      Defunct (for decades) and superseded by Project Daedalus (UK) and Project Longshot (USN). Plus, since 'Orion' is the name of a constellation (and a mythical figure!) should the people involved with Project Orion have used a different name? Is it unacceptable to re-use names at all?

      For that matter, Master of Orion [wikipedia.org] is already well known as a game, having existed for thirteen years as a Microprose publication in the 4X t

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > I hardly think it is appropriate for NASA to have a Captain of Orion when "Master of Orion" obviously outranks him/her.

        In naval terms, Captains outrank Masters.
      • I hardly think it is appropriate for NASA to have a Captain of Orion when "Master of Orion" obviously outranks him/her.

        Time to start that grassroots letter-writing campaign! Where's my petition-drafting pen?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by budgenator ( 254554 )
      So lets get this straight, we name the booster after the God of War, we name the crew vehicle after the Hunter, that also shared its name with a "OMG it's Nuclear(tm)" project, and NASA is going to convince all of the SUV driving Soccer Moms the the project's real purpose isn't to recon baby harp seals for slaughter from outer space; yeah right.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Where were you when NASA named the space station "ISS", an acronym already used for "Internet Security Systems"? [slashdot.org]
    • And apparently there isn't a Greek god of lost causes, so they're screwed.

      -Eric

  • NASA commanders will now be called Master :)
  • by bofkentucky ( 555107 ) <[bofkentucky] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:42AM (#15963451) Homepage Journal
    We're being jerked around with "we can put a crew in orbit" instead of working on high speed probe drives and planetary exploration.
  • by KlomDark ( 6370 )
    One of the best Metallica songs ever, track 7 on Pastor of Muppets.

    Some correlation between Masters of Orion and the song Orion being on Master of Puppets?
    • One of the best Metallica songs ever, track 7 on Pastor of Muppets.
      Pastor of Muppets!?!?

      I'd think this was more like 'The Thing That Should Not Be' considering other projects NASA could be spending this money on...
  • Timeframe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wampus ( 1932 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @11:52AM (#15963565)
    They want to have people in it in orbit by 2014, 8+ years of development time. Didn't Apollo go from nothing to guy on the moon in about the same timeframe?
    • "Didn't Apollo go from nothing to guy on the moon in about the same timeframe?"

      Yeah, but the fact that it was even that long had to do with Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick fighting over script details and actors. It took them a while to secure Dykstra for the effects, too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm currently reading Gene Kranz's book "Failure is not an Option." Yes, Mercury flights started in 1961 and we hit the moon with Apollo in 1969.

      The difference is that with the first time around, the government threw TONS of money at it and gave it their full support. I have a feeling that if the Chinese or the North Koreans came out tomorrow and said that they were putting a man on the moon in 5 years, we would see some changes. As it is, with NASA's current budget, I think a man in orbit in 8 years is
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Teancum ( 67324 )
        Tons of money was an understatement. It was the #2 or #3 item on the Federal budget at the time, consuming as much as about 10% of the GDP of the USA. It is impossible to fathom exactly how pervasive NASA contracts were in the 1960s, but it seemed as though just about every major high tech company in America was involved in some way or another with the building of the Apollo spacecraft and other related components.

        If this were to be done today, it would be like one in five /. readers would either be a NAS
    • They want to have people in it in orbit by 2014, 8+ years of development time. Didn't Apollo go from nothing to guy on the moon in about the same timeframe?

      Apollo, in it's early years, had a much larger budget.
      • by wampus ( 1932 )
        Yes, the US has a much bigger space dick than the USSR. As soon as this was realized, the government and most of the population gave up. This new craft is supposed to be based upon the proven Apollo system, which is completely paid for. Why is it taking longer to develop a craft which is basically an improvement on what we had 40 years ago? Using modern design and manufacturing techniques, plus modern materials combined with the fact that the research is already done, is it unreasonable to expect a quick
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

          This new craft is supposed to be based upon the proven Apollo system, which is completely paid for.

          It's 'based on' the Apollo system in the same sense that a 2006 Corvette is 'based on' a 1966 Corvette or the latest CPU from Intel is 'based on' the 8086.

          Why is it taking longer to develop a craft which is basically an improvement on what we had 40 years ago?

          Mostly because their is little resemblence between the two models except at the most superficial levels. They are using Apollo specs a

  • Is this Space Cowboys 2.0 or Apollo 2.0?
  • ....all of them buxom green women in bikinis.
  • Apollo Legacy (Score:5, Informative)

    by McFortner ( 881162 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:02PM (#15963695)
    The Project Apollo mission patch (image at http://www.goroadachi.com/etemenanki/apollo-logo.j pg [goroadachi.com])has the constellation of Orion in "A" in the center of the patch, so Orion is a continuation of the Apollo legacy and a commitment to the return to the Moon. Michael
  • by the_REAL_sam ( 670858 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:12PM (#15963778) Journal
    RUN run Run run Run.
    Pant Pant Pant Pant Pant.
    SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT.

    (Bursts through door)

    "It's called Orion!"
    "We Know."

  • Seems to me that "Orion" was also the name of the Earth-to-space station PAN AM passenger spacecraft in 2001:A Space Odyssey.

    Or maybe that's just what Aurora called the model...

  • Probably should have been called "Apollo 2.0", but that would have been embarassing.

    The names for the boosters, "Aries I" and "Aries V", aren't that great either. There's already been an "Aries I" booster, used for a missile defense test in 1992.

    Here's the General Accounting Office analysis of the program [gao.gov]. GAO says it's already in trouble, and it hasn't even really been started yet. That's so NASA.

    • "The names for the boosters, "Aries I" and "Aries V", aren't that great either. There's already been an "Aries I" booster, used for a missile defense test in 1992."

      The name's [synlube.com] already been worn out, and does not represent anything flashy, visionary, or forward-looking at all.
    • Funny, we already discussed the name a month ago [slashdot.org]. Actually, the funny part is that for once, it wasn't the Slashdot editors that made it a dupe, it was NASA...sort of.

      Apparently some clever folk at collectspace.com with too much spare time started digging around and came up with some internal correspondence or something to that effect stating that the project would be called Orion. Then they kept on digging and found that NASA had registered the name as a trademark when used in aerospace. Remarkably, the
  • by hpa ( 7948 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @12:43PM (#15963998) Homepage
    Back in the 1950's and 1960's, there was a project to develop a nuclear spaceship named Orion. The basic principle was to operate it by detonating nuclear weapons some 60 m behind the spaceship... over and over and over again. Probably the closest you could ever be to multiple nuclear blasts and expect to live.

    The flipside, however, would have been payload and velocities that would otherwise be way beyond human technology -- we're talking manned mission to Pluto without the crew missing Christmas at home.

    As usual, Wikipedia has an excellent article [wikipedia.org] on the whole thing...
    • The flipside, however, would have been payload and velocities that would otherwise be way beyond human technology

      I dunno about that [nuclearspace.com]. And this one, while nuclear, is non-polluting!

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )
        The original design was to be actual nuclear weapons. And that would be as polluting as a traditional above ground nuclear test.... both of my in-laws (my wife's parents) had to have their thyroid removed because of that kind of testing BTW. And there have been many other hazards as well.

        As for the nuclear rocket opering only in interplanetary space.... compared to the background radiation from the solar wind, it isn't that bad. There are several designs that have been considered, including one that stil
        • The original design was to be actual nuclear weapons.

          Um, yeah, I know, I was just pointing out that other technologies available to humans besides "exploding bombs behind the spacecraft" can lift similar amounts. The one I linked to basically uses a nuclear reaction to heat up hydrogen, which can't be made radioactive, and spewing that out the back. Great for liftoff from Earth.

          For operation in space, I think you're referring to this [washington.edu], which has highly radioactive exhaust but a wonderful ISP.

    • by Teancum ( 67324 )
      What was very remarkable was that some of the hardware was even tested under actual "flight" conditions. When the Hydrogen bomb tests were conducted in the South Pacific by the USA, there was a section of the proposed "containment" nozzle that was set up right next to the bomb, just to see if it would survive and work. The surprising thing was that it did, including the very heavy duty springs that were acting as a shock absorber. I think there was proposed a follow-up test to build the full containment
    • As usual, Wikipedia has an excellent article on the whole thing...

      ROTFLMAO. 'Excellent' only by the standards of (say) a fourth grade book report. It's the Wikipedia's usual mix of poorly organized fact thoroughly mixed with fantasy, fiction, and speculation such that it's impossible to discern the difference.
  • What with Big Blue buying the space station an all...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..it's a friggin capsule FerCrynOutLoud!

    So that's the best that the Constellation Program could come up with?
    Guess we're back to "The Right Stuff", where chimps get stuffed into the capsule and blast off into the wild black nothing..!

    Just hope them spaceship pilots don't need to take manual control upon reentry and divert to an alternate landing strip.
    Oh wait, theres no wings, no rudder, and the only airfoil is a blunt cone...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WhiplashII ( 542766 )
      Oh wait, theres no wings, no rudder, and the only airfoil is a blunt cone...

      And it's a good thing, too. Wings are a really dumb idea for a spaceship - they are heavy during liftoff, hard to cool during reentry, and not big enough when you land. And these "blunt cone" airfoils can have over 100 miles of cross-range, and make pinpoint landings. (Think about it, they have about a 0.3 lift to drag ratio and fall through about 100 miles of atmosphere, trying to burn off the insane speed they have) All of the
  • So they're going to name it 'Orion'.

    Will it have option mounts?

    Also, the ability to double its engine output could really come in handy in the event of a booster failure, or when hefting a heavy payload to GTO.

  • Supposedly the smaller Ares 1 will lift 25 tons to LEO (Low Earth Orbit). I think it's foolish to ignore that currently the Atlas V Heavy design could do the same for 20 tons of payload. If NASA had slightly scaled down its ambitions, it could use current commercial technology. No real design costs needed for the launch vehicle (unless someone puts teeth in the concept of "man-rating" a vehicle). Fortunately, once the Atlas series or some other rocket grows large enough to handle Orion, NASA will be forced

  • I think I'm going to start taking bets now:

    In 30 years (or whatever) when somebody builds a ship capable of getting somewhere useful really really fast, it will be called Enterprise.

    My basis for this theory is that geeks work at NASA, and geeks watch Star Trek.

    It'll happen, mark my words!

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