NASA and Lockheed Martin are developing a space transport system that, by the year 2020, will convey humans to and from the moon. The Orion vehicle—which contains a pressurized capsule, life-support systems and a propulsion engine—serves as one of the linchpins of the Constellation program, which also includes launch boosters and support modules.

Although the Constellation-Orion program in some ways resembles the 1960s-era Apollo moon program, it will be capable of conducting other manned and unmanned missions besides lunar excursions, including servicing the space station and perhaps traveling to the planet Mars.

The Constellation system’s enhanced flexibility derives from a larger, more generalized design and the use of state-of-the-art technology.