Editor's note: Last week I began to receive mutliple reports from NASA sources that the Constellation program has baselined a water landing for the Orion spacecraft. After multiple requests, NASA ESMD PAO replied to me a few moments ago.
From ESMD PAO's Melissa Motichek: "I can tell you that there has not been a final decision on the nominal landing mode (land vs water). The point of departure architecture assumes a nominal water landing to begin the analysis cycle. We will re-address this issue as analysis of contingency water and land landing progresses."
To which I replied: "You have simply confused me further. The "point of departure architecture" used to call for a land landing. Now you say it is a water landing - yet you say that the final decision has not been made."
In August 2007 both Doug Cooke and Doc Horowitz told me that this decision had not been made (contrary to other reports) and that studies were still underway.
It is quite obvious that ESMD PAO (and therefore ESMD) is incapable of making simple 'yes' or 'no' answers to simple questions.
Let me try this again: has NASA decided to land Orion spacecraft in the water as its basic plan of flight operations?
Editor's update: A NASA Watch reader noted that the 3 Dec Space News quotes Jeff Hanley as follows:
"Q. How did Orion manage to lose the weight?
A. In their recent weight scrub effort, the Orion team settled on a targeted water-based landing off the California coast as the nominal landing mode, which the program has accepted."
This really has me perplexed. Jeff Hanley says it that Orion is now landing in water yet ESMD PAO at NASA HQ (who says only what their management tells them to say) informs me that no decision has been made. Small wonder people have their doubts about ESMD and their spacecraft designs. One hand clearly does not know what the other is doing - or saying.