The American space program is currently in the midst of a manned capability gap.  NASA has announced when they plan on ending that gap with the release of Orion's test schedule.

Orion is the successor in many ways to the space shuttle but in equal was is totally different from it.  With radically different goals than the space shuttle, Orion promises to take American astronauts beyond our planet in our next exploratory effort.

The only problem is Orion is more blueprint than reality.

The spacecraft was part of the Obama-cancelled Constellation program.  The current administration wants NASA to focus more on asteroids and Mars.

Orion is scheduled to begin flight testing in early 2014.  Operational flights are expected to launch in 2016.