The Orion vehicle’s return to life is starting to pick up the pace, with planning for an unmanned test flight as early as 2013, along with discussions into the schedule for the manned debut of the vehicle. Key questions revolve around joint government and contractor responsibility for the test flight, while the manned debut may occur in 2016, or 2018/19, depending on the availability of the Space Launch System (SLS), suggests Spaceflight Now.
First up is planning for an unmanned test flight, as soon as 2013, with a Block I Orion being sent on a debut flight. Orion would be lofted by a Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral, allowing for the testing of Orion’s orbital ability and re-entry capabilities. The test is being dubbed Orion Flight Test-1 (OTF-1).