The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 news about the country’s next trip to the Moon has been giving. Both Lockheed Martin and NASA have confirmed completion of the Orion crew capsule that will play a key role in Artemis 1, the uncrewed mission that will fly past the Moon while verifying Orion, the Space Launch System and the associated support systems. Efforts are now focused on integrating the capsule with the service module and testing it ahead of launch processing in early 2020.
The capsule is a relatively complex. It has enough survival equipment for 21 days of active crew time, a modern cockpit, automatic docking and a whopping 12 engines. It needs that volume of equipment, though. It’s meant to be the main crew vehicle not just for Artemis, but for possible asteroid and Mars missions. It needs to be adaptable in ways that even capsules like Crew Dragon haven’t mustered so far.