NASA concluded that a mission profile in which Falcon Heavy places Orion, a service module, and an ICPS upper stage in orbit in a single launch may be the only option for a near-term commercial alternative for Orion’s first operational test flight.
Above is rendering from Brickmat of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy with the Orion and ICPS upper stage.
NASA Administrator Bridenstein said “It would require time, it would require cost, and there is risk involved, but guess what? If we’re gonna land boots on the Moon in 2024, we have time, and we have the ability to accept some risk and make some modifications. All of that is on the table. There is nothing sacred here that is off the table, and [FH+ICPS+Orion/ESM] is a potential capability that could help us land on the Moon in 2024.”
The Orion spacecraft, its ESM, and a fueled ICPS boost stage would weigh 56,000 kg (~123,000 lb) at launch. An expendable Falcon Heavy can place 64,000 kg (140,000 lb) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Another excellent render from @brickmack, showing what SpaceX's Falcon Heavy might look like in the (unlikely but not impossible) event that NASA decides to launch Orion's EM-1 test flight on commercial rockets instead of SLS. Looks… sorta normal, tbh.https://t.co/9VEPMlcqP9 pic.twitter.com/5SlDRJNRCz
— Eric Ralph (@13ericralph31) March 22, 2019
Yes, it’s true. The NASA administrator, @JimBridenstine, really did seriously discuss today launching astronauts to the Moon by 2024 inside Orion, on a Falcon Heavy rocket, with an ICPS upper stage. It marked a true wow moment. Details:https://t.co/7hz6o1y3Gv
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) April 1, 2019
SOURCES- Twitter, NASA, Ars Technica
Written By Brian Wang