5 of 9Image
MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) is an outgrowth of the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) of President George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration initiative that was announced in January of 2004. Various design changes have resulted in a capsule that can carry up to four astronauts, and is similar in outward appearance to the Apollo capsule from the 1960s.The Orion was originally designed to sit atop the Ares V booster system, which has since been cancelled by the Obama administration. Lockheed plans to do an initial unmanned flight test of the Orion using a Delta IV Heavy booster in 2014.
SpaceDev's Dream Chaser is an attempt to return to the X-34 lifting body designs originally proposed for the Air Force. Like the Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser is a re-useable spacecraft which can accomodate a crew of seven astronauts and cargo for resupply of the ISS. It is designed to launch atop a Atlas V booster rocket and on its return trip earth, perform a glide (unpowered) landing on a conventional runway exactly like the Space Shuttle.NASA has awarded $80M to the continued development of Dream Chaser. Sierra Nevada has had successful test firings of the Dream Chaser's hybrid rocket motor and has completed tooling for building the composite structure of the vehicle, as well as assembly of the primary structure of its initial test flight airframe.No test flights have been planned as of yet.
Founded in the Year 2000 and privately funded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the company has established a facility in Culbertson County, Texas, for the development of their spacecraft known as "New Shepard".New Shepard is unique from the other spacecraft designs in this gallery in that it is designed to be a SSTO (Single Stage to Orbit) re-useable spacecraft. More so than the SpaceX Falcon 9 "Grasshopper" that is being proposed, it's totally "Buck Rogers" in its design in that it takes off vertically and also lands under its own power vertically, all in one piece.A New Shepard vehicle, if produced, could send up to 3 astronauts into orbit or could also be used for re-supply of the ISS.Blue Origin has undergone several tests using sub-scale test vehicles. The company lost one of the prototype sub-scale vehicles on August 24, 2011 when the ground crew lost control and contact.NASA has given approximately $22M to Blue Origin for additional funding and development of the New Shepard.