NASA made the long-awaited announcement Aug. 31, ending an intense competition the roots of which go back to 2004, when U.S. President George W. Bush called for the development of a CEV to replace the space shuttle and eventually carry astronauts to the Moon.
A day before: NASA had announced that Ares I and V (the crew and cargo launch vehicles resply.) would become the flagship vehicles of the NASA fleet. More about Ares...
Orion will be capable of transporting four crewmembers for lunar missions and later supporting crew transfers for Mars missions. Orion could also carry up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station.
The first Orion launch with humans onboard is planned for no later than 2014, and for a human moon landing no later than 2020. Orion will form a key element of extending a sustained human presence beyond low-Earth orbit to advance commerce, science and national leadership.(?!)
NASA said manufacturing and integration of the vehicle components will take place at contractor facilities across the country. Lockheed Martin will perform the majority of the Orion vehicle engineering work at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, and complete final assembly of the vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. All 10 NASA centers will provide technical and engineering support to the project.
NASA - The Constellation Program
NASA's moonship site
Find an interesting discussion about the chosen name here
[ an excerpt]
When the the world clock was established and Greenwich England became time zero, A point in the Celestial sphere above Greenwich England was chosen. What was chosen? The Star Aries in the Constellation Aries and it became known as the first point of Aries.
Why would NASA pick a WAR symbology rather than an astronomical sign? No classically trained Rocket engineers? Yup, in my opinion!!!Aries anyone?