The Denver Post reports today that the Orion spacecraft passes first safety review. “The Orion crew capsule has completed the Phase 1 safety review of NASA’s human-rating requirements for space exploration in low Earth orbit and beyond.” The next critical milestone will be Orion’s Critical Design Review, slated for 2011.
Given that the most optimistic date for Orion to have its first mission is late 2012, one would be forgiven for wondering when first flight will occur for the commercial spacecraft, such as SpaceX’s Dragon, that are intended to replace Orion under the proposed Obama human space flight plan. Any replacement for Orion will have to go through the same steps as Orion has passed. With Orion passing its Phase 1 safety review, it is clearly the leader of the pack of human rated spacecraft for now, leaving in doubt claims by some in the commercial sector that they would be ready to launch their own human-rated spacecraft before Orion.