I remember that the Orion spacecraft was a thing when it had its maiden voyage in 2014. Nowadays, all I read about is the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner, which are both running late. Soyuz seems to be done.

What would some reasons be for Nasa not be planning to use the Orion spacecraft to bring astronauts to the ISS? According to Wikipedia it's designed for "mission at or beyond LEO".

  • $\begingroup$ An Orion mission costs (since you need an SLS) at least $1.5E^9. That's less than the development cost of the Crew Dragon. A Falcon Heavy launch is up to $1.5E^8. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2019 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


Orion is:

  1. expensive to operate. It's heavier, bigger, but primarily the development was done in ways that drove the costs up significantly. It is capable of flight to lunar orbit - and it's an overkill to ISS. Too expensive and too overengineered for that purpose. Dragon 2 and Starliner are simply far more cost-efficient solutions.
  2. significantly behind schedule. Starliner and Dragon are nearly ready to go, passing last tests. Orion is still far behind. By the time it's ready the lineup of competition will be routine flights. It might get one or two test flights to ISS (providing ISS is still in orbit by then) but it would be pointless to make that a routine thing.
  • $\begingroup$ iirc, the non-recovered service module of the Orion is also a much more "functional" part of the craft compared to Dragon 2's trunk which serves in large part to hold unpressurized cargo $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Nov 29, 2019 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ afaik this is all good, but some references would be nice. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2019 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ Re point 2, is Orion behind schedule, or is SLS behind schedule? If it's just the latter, might be worth discussing whether Orion is tied to launching on SLA. $\endgroup$
    – DylanSp
    Nov 29, 2019 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DylanSp; Maybe stating it's "behind schedule" was inaccurate (depending on which schedule you take, in Constellation it was 4 years behind schedule before the program was cancelled, Orion moved to its own program and new schedule established) - more accurately its schedule is more lax and slower, manned flights unlikely to start before the competitors. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Nov 30, 2019 at 13:10

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