NASA Administrator Bolden's MPCV (Orion) Statement

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AmericaSpace Note: A statement to NASA employees by Charlie Bolden about the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle.

Key Decision for Next Deep Space Transportation System

NASA has reached an important milestone in defining the next transportation system that will carry humans into deep space. After careful analysis and very thoughtful deliberations by our senior management team, I have decided to accept the Orion-based design reference vehicle for the development phase of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). The design is sound and testing has proven the vehicle to be the best option for this phase of exploration efforts beyond low-Earth orbit.

We are committed to developing a transportation system that will enable humans to explore multiple deep space destinations. While we are currently in the process of down-selecting options and further focusing the approach for the heavy lift launch vehicle, we are moving forward with MPCV, using the current contract for at least the development phase of the effort.

The MPCV team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions, and innovation. Examples include implementation of a new oversight model to ensure the most efficient use of NASA and contractor workforces and applying technologies such as composite materials, friction stir welding and advanced avionics networks to enhance performance as well as affordability. And this is just the beginning. These innovations have allowed the team to continue technical progress within reduced budget estimates. I am absolutely convinced that the team will continue to find additional affordable solutions.

I would like to thank our NASA and contractor teams for their commitment to exploration, their passion for our mission and for their determination in finding the right solutions. This is a decision that was appropriately deliberative, and one I am proud to make.

In the coming weeks, we will be making further decisions with regard to the transportation architecture. In the meantime, we are refining the SLS concept and defining strategy alternatives based on detailed analysis and input from industry through Broad Agency Announcement study contracts. Additionally, the MPCV team is focusing on further development of the Ground Test Article, other development design and analysis, as well as coming up with an integrated MPCV/SLS plan that will be affordable, sustainable, and realistic.

All of us at NASA look forward to finalizing the baseline plan for our deep space transportation system, moving smartly into the development phase, and ultimately to the discoveries that await us as humans explore beyond low-Earth orbit.

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  • Borecrawler

    Mr. Bolden; please tell us something we don’t already know! While I am glad they have decided on at least one component of the new exploration plan (congratulations to those at Lockheed), I get the impression that this is NASA’s way of throwing a bone to Congress to appease them while they continue to slow roll the entire program. The only reason I can see for their deliberate delay of the launch architecture is that they still want to do something other than that which has been mandated by law. When Bolden states “refining the SLS concept and defining strategy alternatives based on detailed analysis and input from industry through Broad Agency Announcement study contracts”, I cringe. This is the same language that has failed to produce anything meaningful for over two years.