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Orion Crew Exploratin Vehicle - Image courtesy NASA

Orion Logo - Image courtesy collectSPACE.com
Project Orion will land Americans back on the moon by 2020

NASA made officially announced the name of its moon vehicle yesterday -- a week ahead of schedule. The reason for the early reveal was because an American astronaut on the international space station let the name slip over an open radio channel. "We've been calling it the crew exploration vehicle for several years, but today it has a name... Orion," said astronaut Jeffrey Williams. NASA officials denied the Orion name shortly after the leak, but later confirmed the name.

It should be noted that the name "Orion" will be the official project name for NASA's missions to the international space station and to the moon. Orion will also be the name of the four-man crew exploration vehicle (reminiscent of the old Apollo capsule). The Orion capsule is 16.5 feet in diameter and has a mass of 25 tons. It also has 2.5 the internal volume of the old Apollo capsules.

"Many of its stars have been used for navigation and guided explorers to new worlds for centuries. Our team, and all of NASA - and, I believe, our country - grows more excited with every step forward this program takes. The future for space exploration is coming quickly," said Orion Project Manager Skip Hatfield.

Orion will succeed the space shuttle as NASA's primary astronaut ferry and its first flight will take place before 2014. Orion's first trip to the moon should take place no later than 2020. If Orion does touchdown on the moon by 2020, it would represent a 50 year spread since the first time an American stepped foot on our nearest neighbor in space.





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