Crew Exploration Vehicle

From Academic Kids

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Boeing's CEV concept

The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is NASA's proposed series of human spaceflight spacecraft, intended to succeed the space shuttle system. Together with the Earth Departure Stage (EDS), the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), and the associated launch infrastructure, the CEV is one of the elements of Project Constellation.



As of 2004, NASA has not made any design decisions. However, it is likely that the CEV will follow the service and crew module design principle. Instead of the reusable spaceplane used in the space shuttle system, the crew module will be either a capsule similar to the one used in the Apollo, Gemini, Soyuz and Shenzhou systems, or a lifting body, similar to the X-38 and Kliper. The CEV will launch on an expendable launch system and carry crew to low Earth orbit, and perhaps more ambitiously in the future to the Moon, Mars, and other destinations.


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Lockheed Martin's lifting body
Crew Module
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Lockheed Martin's CEV concept
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Northrop Grumman's CEV concept

The Draft Statement of Work for the CEV was issued by NASA on December 9th 2004 and slightly more than one month later, on January 21st 2005, NASA issued a Draft RFP (Request For Proposal). The Final RFP was issued on March 1st 2005 with the potential bidders being asked to answer by May 2nd 2005.

NASA then plans to have a suborbital or an Earth orbit fly-off called Flight Application of Spacecraft Technologies (FAST) between two teams' CEV designs before September 1st 2008.

One of the main goals of the new CEV is lunar expeditions.

NASA will choose two main contractor teams for the fly-off. Each team will have a complete design for the CEV and its launch vehicle. The teams will also have to develop a plan for their CEV to take part in the assembly of a lunar expedition in earth orbit. The two major teams announced are:

Lockheed's craft would be a small shuttle-shaped capsule, big enough for six astronauts and their equipment. Its airplane-shaped design makes it easier to navigate during high-speed returns to Earth than the capsule-shaped vehicles of the past, according to Lockheed Martin. According to French daily Le Figaro, EADS SPACE Transportation would be in charge of the design and construction of the associated Mission Module. The head of the Lockheed team is Cleon Lacefield.

On June 13, 2005 NASA announced the selection of two consortiums, Lockheed Martin Corp. and the team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and The Boeing Co. that will lead to an award to build the agency's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) on early 2006.

Another announced team was t/Space, a consortium including such groups as Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, Elon Musk's SpaceX, and Red Whittaker[1] ( of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute. Some news reports in mid-March 2005, stemming from an interview with New Scientist had reported that t/Space intended to withdraw from the competition, citing a high paperwork burden; however, no announcement of a withdrawal had been made by t/Space.

NASA has not gone public about who did finally submit a bid. Therefore it can be assumed that either t/Space did not submit a bid, or that its bid was not selected by NASA.

Each contractor-led team will include subcontractors that will provide the lunar expedition astronauts with equipment, life support, rocket engines and onboard navigation systems. In the Earth orbit fly-offs, one complete CEV lunar mission design will compete against the other. NASA will choose the winner to build the final ships. Fly-offs are used by the U.S. Air Force to select military aircraft; this will be the first time that NASA has used this approach in awarding contracts.

Reusability is a valuable component, but initially not essential. The main choice will be what makes the most sense in designing the 21st century lunar craft.

Spiral development and schedule

NASA planners are focusing on a three-part plan for a return to the moon they call trade studies. NASA plans to have the winner of the fly-off competition design the CEV ships in a series of "spirals," or complete designs with spacecraft systems and subsystems:

  • Exploration Spiral One (CEV Earth Orbit Capability). By 2014, Spiral 1 gear will test crew transportation elements in Low Earth Orbit, in preparation for human missions to the Moon. As new elements are developed, they will be tested in space with the Spiral 1 CEV.
  • Exploration Spiral Two (Extended Lunar Exploration). By 2015 or 2020, Spiral 2 gear will put humans on the Moon for at least four days.
  • Exploration Spiral Three (Long Duration Lunar Exploration). After 2020, Spiral 3 gear will allow routine human long-duration missions on the surface of the Moon to test out technologies and operational techniques for sending humans to Mars and beyond. Missions in Spiral 3 will last up to several months, serving as an operational analog of short-stay Mars missions.
  • Exploration Spiral Four (Crew Transportation System Mars Flyby). After 2020, Spiral 4 gear will allow a Mars flyby mission using elements of the Human-Mars Crew Transportation System.
  • Exploration Spiral Five (Human Mars Surface Campaign). After 2020, Spiral 5 gear will send humans to Mars.

NASA is also looking into building rockets with nuclear propulsion. This will not be part of the initial phase of building the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

NASA hopes to follow this schedule in development of the CEV:

  • 2008 - The first prototype CEV is to be launched with a candidate launch vehicle. This is the fly-off called Flight Application of Spacecraft Technologies (FAST)
  • 2008 - 3rd Quarter - NASA plans to select the final design for the lunar spacecraft and its mission mode.
  • 2011 - First unmanned flight of CEV in earth orbit.
  • 2014 - First unmanned flight of lunar spacecraft design.
  • 2015 - First manned flight of CEV in earth orbit.
  • 2015 - First manned flight of lunar spacecraft.
  • 2015 - 2020 - First moon landing by astronauts in lunar spacecraft.

Although President Bush's proposed plan for the CEV does not call for manned flights until 2014, current Nasa Admistrator Michael Griffin has stated that he views the resulting four year gap between then and the retirement of the Shuttle in 2010 as an unaceptable inabiltity of the US to carry its own astronauts into space. With this in mind, he is pushing for inception of manned flights by the CEV by 2010.


The proposal to create the CEV is partly a reaction to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report and the White House's review of the American space program.

The CEV replaces the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program.

On January 14th 2004, President George W. Bush announced the CEV as part of the Vision for Space Exploration:

"Our second goal is to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module."


President Bush's budget request for Financial Year 2005 includes: "$428 million for Project Constellation ($6.6 billion over five years) to develop a new crew exploration vehicle." Budget for year 2005 has been confirmed by the Congress in November 2004.

The FY2006 budget request includes $753 million for continuing development of the CEV.

See also

External links

SpaceDev Dream Chaser-TM- Human Space Transport System Designed

Hercules Exploration System

Template:US manned space programsde:Crew Exploration Vehicle hu:Crew Exploration Vehicle nl:Crew Exploration Vehicle


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