For those of you who are upset to the see the final Space Shuttle mission this week, we definitely have something to look forward to with the new Orion, Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for manned space flight.
The main saucer-shaped “Crew Module” can separate from the “Service Module” that contains the propulsion, water and oxygen for sustaining life, and cargo transport (this is similar to the flying “saucer” that could separate from the main body of the Star Trek Enterprise in later episodes).
Orion will supposedly be the most advanced space vehicle out there to support missions from 4 to 900 days (virtually a full blown Star Trek voyage).
It is being built by Lockheed Martin (an early supporter of the United Federation of Planets?) and will have advanced life support, propulsion, avionics, and thermal protection for reentry (and hopefully in development are the phasers, photon torpedos, phase modulating shields, warp core, and transporter).
The Orion will be able to transport 4 crew and may be augmented by Robonauts (sort of like Data the android, but with no personality yet).
Robonauts are engineered by a collaboration of NASA and General Motors, and according to GM, they will help automate “dull, repetitive, and ergonomically challenging tasks” and make us more efficient in both the aerospace and automative industries. Note: A robonaut is currently up on the International Space Station for testing (a precursor to Deep Space Nine).
Progress is being made, cool things are coming, and we will hopefully all be fortunate to see it unfold.
Gene Roddenberry was right about our future all along. 🙂
(Source Photos: Orion from Wikipedia and Star Trek Enterprise from here)