The Space Shuttles are planned to retire in 2010 and originally their successor was planned to arrive by 2015. But now NASA claims the successor may be ready by as early as 2013:
The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle will become the primary craft responsible for transporting astronauts and supplies to and from the International Space Station -- and NASA is the current top pick to help the nation return to the moon. Lockheed Martin Corp. is now the main company responsible for designing and creating the space vehicle.
"We're trying to get the [initial operating capabilities] by as early as 2013," Hanley adds. Project Constellation will reuse much of the existing STS infrastructure, but still requires new command and launch modules.
The Ares I and Ares V rockets should also be ready by 2015. Both part of Project Constellation, the Ares I will be responsible for launching the Orion Crew Vehicle, and Ares V is being designed to be official cargo launch vehicle for the ambitious Project Constellation.