It's the future of America's space program, but it's deeply rooted in the past.
NASA's new Orion spacecraft made a stop in Oklahoma City this week at Science Museum Oklahoma. The ship is the same one used in the PA-1 Pad Abort Test at White Sands Missile Range on May 6, 2010. It's being moved to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida with stops in Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Huntsville.
The Orion MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) looks very much similar to the old Apollo design. That's not a mistake. Larry Price, deputy program manager of the Orion program for Lockheed-Martin maintains that the well-recognized shape of the new craft is intentional, mainly because the Apollo program was so successful.
"Going back to a shape that was a proven shape on Apollo, we have all the data from the twelve flights back into the atmosphere," said Price. "That we can build on to have a more reliable system at much lower cost and development schedule."
NASA's new exploratory mission needed a new craft, since the Space Shuttle had performed all the duties it had been designed for.
"It weighs about two hundred and fifty thousand pounds," said Price. "This weighs about a tenth that much."
Shelly Domotor made the trip from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to see the Orion spacecraft, and took several pictures.
"I was nine years old when Alan Shepard went up," said Domotor. "They used to do assemblies at school, and we used to go and listen to it."
Domotor, along with several others, signed one of Orion's panels that had been removed to see inside the ship. She's happy that Orion's design pays homage to the U.S.'s space history.
"What's old is new," laughed Domotor. "If it's not broken, don't fix it."