NASA recently revealed details of the recovery concept for its Orion space capsule. The concept shows how much has changed, and not changed, since the 1960′s.

A NASA artist’s conception shows the Orion capsule being recovered by a US Navy Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship. This shows the diminished importance of NASA’s exploration program to overall US strategic policy. In the 1960′s, the United States Navy detailed an entire carrier battle group to recover an Apollo capsule, but now all it can spare is an LPD.

Not that an LPD is exactly cheap, but Orion is not designed to be cheap. The annual development cost for Orion is less than the expected total development cost for the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which will provide similar capabilities (including the ability the conduct lunar and Mars missions, according to Space). Of course, this isn’t NASA’s fault — the US Congress insisted that NASA continue development of the pointlessly redundant Orion capsule, which has consumed scarce resources that could have been used to jump-start development of deep-space exploration systems such as Johnson Space Center’s Nautilus X.

Read more: NASA Recovery Operations Trapped in the 60′s — Citizens in Space.

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