With the Shuttle nearing retirement and some uncertainty about relying on Russia for U.S. access to space, NASA managers are brainstorming how the Constellation program can be sped up by up to 18 months. The chief idea on the table, according to this article: reduce testing, including up to five flights planned to test the upper stage. The result would be a LEO-capable Orion/Ares stack, with development of lunar-capable Orion versions postponed.
COMMENT: I lack the vocabulary to properly describe what a bad idea this is. Cutting testing to produce a schedule that is STILL longer than the original confident proposals put out by NASA and ATK is, historically, a recipe for failure with a complex system like Ares/Orion.
I know I am oversimplifying here, but the point of Orion was a single flexible craft for multiple missions, and the Ares already had a flight test schedule that was, in light of the work SpaceX needed to get a smaller new rocket to orbit, minimal. In my humble status as just another taxpayer with an opinion, I say: junk this idea. Live with a schedule slip if the alternative is a truncated testing program.