List of Constellation missions


Artist's rendition of the docking of Orion to the ISS
Ares I-X launches from LC-39B, 15:30 UTC, October 28, 2009.

The Constellation Program was NASA's planned future human spaceflight program between 2005 and 2009, which aimed to develop a new crewed spacecraft (Orion) and a pair of launchers (Ares I and Ares V) to continue servicing the International Space Station and return to the Moon.

As of 2009, a single uncrewed suborbital launch test (Ares I-X) had been flown, with crewed missions anticipated to begin between 2014 (when an uncrewed mission was indeed launched) and 2017-2019 (according to the independent Augustine Commission). On February 1, 2010, President Obama announced that he intended to cancel the program with the U.S. 2011 fiscal year budget. A revised proposal in April confirmed that the Orion spacecraft would be retained for future mission beyond low Earth orbit, with the Ares launchers redeveloped into the Space Launch System. However, the Constellation Program itself was cancelled, with low Earth orbit operations transferred to the Commercial Crew Development program, which itself would not begin crewed launches until Crew Dragon Demo-2 in 2020.

Development of mission plans

In October 2006 NASA released a draft schedule of all planned NASA Constellation missions through 2019.[1][2] This document included descriptions of a series of proposed vehicle test missions. In July 2007 the schedule was reviewed.[3] In January 2008 the schedule was again reviewed.[4][5] The most recent published set of milestones is from February 2009.[6] Also, an independent assessment by the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee in October 2009 found that under NASA's then-current plans and budget the Ares I would not be ready to launch until 2017–2019, with the Ares V not available until the late 2020s.

On October 11, 2010, the Constellation program was cancelled, ending development of the Altair, Ares I, and Ares V. The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was renamed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), to be launched on the Space Launch System.[7]

Constellation missions

After cancellation, two of the original launches took place anyway.

Test launches
Order Date Year Mission Launch Vehicle Duration Crew Size Launch Pad Note
1 October 28 2009 Ares I-X Ares I-X ~2 min. Uncrewed 39B Atmospheric test of the first stage of the Ares I-X launcher with four active SRM segments and an inert fifth segment and upper stage. Program had already been cancelled by time of launch.
3 December 5 2014 Exploration Flight Test 1 Delta IV Heavy 4 hours, 24 minutes Uncrewed SLC-37B First flight of the Orion spacecraft, in an uncrewed orbital flight with a splashdown off California.
Planned missions as of 2009
2 (never flown) 2012 Ares I-X Prime "Ares 1Y" Ares I-X Prime "Ares 1Y" ~8 min. Uncrewed 39B Second sub-orbital Ares I-X test flight, consisting of a five segment booster with real upper stage and a dummy J-2 engine. High altitude abort.
4 (never flown) 2015 Orion 2 Ares I Crewed 39B First crewed Orion test flight.[8] Includes demonstration of rendezvous and proximity operations with the ISS. First docking with the ISS. Landing at Edwards AFB. Leaves an adapter on the ISS.
5 (never flown) 2015 Orion 3 Ares I Crewed 39B Second crewed Orion test flight. Leaves a second adapter on the ISS.
6 (never flown) 2015 Orion 4 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight. First operational Orion flight.
7 (never flown) 2016 Orion 5 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
8 (never flown) 2016 Orion 6 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
9 (never flown) 2017 Orion 7 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
10 (never flown) 2017 Orion 8 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
11 (never flown) 2018 Orion 9 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
13 (never flown) 2018 Ares V-Y Ares V-Y Uncrewed 39A Maiden flight of Ares V
14 (never flown) 2018 Orion 10 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
15 (never flown) 2019 Altair 1 Ares V Uncrewed 39A Maiden flight of Altair. Altair for Orion 11.
16 (never flown) 2019 Orion 11 Ares I Crewed 39B
17 (never flown) 2019 Orion 12 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
18 (never flown) 2019 Altair 2 Ares V Uncrewed 39A Altair for Orion 13
19 (never flown) 2019 Orion 13 Ares I Crewed 39B First Orion flight to the Moon
20 (never flown) 2019 Orion 14 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
21 (never flown) 2020 Altair 3 Ares V Uncrewed 39A Altair for Orion 15
22 (never flown) 2020 Orion 15 Ares I Crewed 39B Flight to the Moon
23 (never flown) 2020 Orion 16 Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight
24 (never flown) 2020 Altair 4 Ares V Uncrewed 39A Direct lunar flight?
25 (never flown) 2020 Orion 17[9] Ares I Crewed 39B ISS Crew Rotation Flight

Pad abort tests

These were planned to test the launch escape system of the Orion spacecraft on the launchpad.[3]

Order Date Mission Note
1 May 6, 2010 Pad Abort-1 Used the former shape of the LAS adapter.

Also known as abort flight test (AFT). The full-scale Orion AFT crew module underwent preparations at Dryden Flight Research Center. [10]

Orion Crew Module Pathfinder 'Test Article' fabricated at Langley Research Center. The PA-1 Test took place at U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.[11] While originally planned to occur in late 2008, the test slipped to "early 2010".[12] In October 2009 Orbital Sciences indicated the test was scheduled for March 2010.[13]


  1. ^ "NASA sets Orion 13 for Moon Return". 11 Oct 2006.
  2. ^ "Constellation Program Initial Capability Content (PMR Rev. #1)" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-03-08.
  3. ^ a b "Multi-Program Integrated Milestones" (PDF). NASA. 2007-07-10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
  4. ^ "$700m gap threatens major delays to Ares test flights/development". 2008-01-18. Archived from the original on 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
  5. ^ "Manifest Comparison PMR07 vs. PMR08 Guidelines". NASA. 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
  6. ^ "Multi-Program Integrated Milestones, Q2 FY 2009" (PDF). NASA. 2009-02-03. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  7. ^ Rhian, Jason (October 11, 2010). "President Signs NASA 2010 Authorization Act". Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  8. ^ "Managers reevaluating Ares I-Y flight test". 3 Nov 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-11-07.
  9. ^ 2009 MPIM gives "Orion 8"; presumably a typo
  10. ^ "Surrounded by work platforms, the full-scale Orion AFT crew module is undergoing preparations for the first flight test of Orion's launch abort system". NASA. 2008-05-20. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  11. ^ "Langley Reaches Milestone, Completes Orion Crew Module Test Article". NASA. 2008-10-06. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  12. ^ "Orion Pad Abort Test Slips Into 2010". Aviation Week. 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
  13. ^ "Q3 2009 Orbital Sciences Corporation Earnings Conference Call" (PDF). Thomson Reuters. Oct 27, 2009.

External links

  • Official Orion NASA Web Site
  • Official Ares Web Site