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Last Updated: Wednesday May 25 2011 14:29 GMT

PICTURES: Spaceship chosen for Nasa deep space missions

An artist's impression of the multi-purpose crew vehicle (MPCV)

Nasa have picked the type of spaceship they want to use to send astronauts beyond Earth into deep space to land on asteroids - and possibly even Mars! And this is it.

The NASA Orion crew exploration vehicle

It's a multi-purpose crew vehicle (MPCV) which is being based on the Orion spaceship. Orion was designed to be able to visit the International Space Station AND do deep-space missions.

Models of the Orion and Ares crew exploration vehicles from 2006

The Orion project to take astronauts back to the surface of the Moon was cancelled by US president Barack Obama in 2010 because it was too expensive.

Reporters are given a tour and briefing on the NASA Constellation Program's Orion crew module when it was under development in 2008

Nasa says it wants to use the lessons it learned building Orion to create a new MPVC that could support deep space missions of up to six months!

Orion vehicle

The new MPCV will be able to carry four astronauts on 21-day missions. It will start those journeys by launching on top of a rocket, and end them by splashing into the Pacific Ocean.