NASA prepares Orion spacecraft for first flight in 2014
THE next-generation Orion spacecraft has arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, where technicians will prepare it for its first flight in 2014.
The NASA craft is to replace the space shuttle fleet, which was retired last year, with the goal of sending astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit to an asteroid and, eventually, Mars.
The US space agency is shifting flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to commercial companies. Space X’s Dragon capsule made the first commercial cargo delivery to the station in May. Working with commercial providers will allow NASA to turn its attention to more long-distance destinations with Orion.
“Orion’s arrival at Kennedy is an important step in meeting the president’s goal to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s,” NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver told the guests gathered for Orion’s arrival.
“Delivery of the first space-bound Orion, coupled with recent successes in commercial spaceflight, is proof this national strategy is working.”
The United States will conduct Orion’s first unmanned test flight in two years to evaluate how it operates during launch, in space, and during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. It will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, orbit twice around the Earth and then make a water landing.
Orion will orbit 5,793km above the Earth, some 15 times higher than the ISS and farther from the planet than any spacecraft has travelled since the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and 70s.
NASA hopes to fly the six-person crew capsule about once or twice a year through the 2020s and send a manned mission to an asteroid by 2025, but exact plans for when and where the new craft’s first mission will be are not yet set.
“Orion’s first unmanned test flight in two years” <– why unmanned?
“Orion will orbit 5,793km above the Earth” <– oh thats why..going to high eh?
“15 times higher than the ISS and farther from the planet than any spacecraft has travelled since the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s and 70s.” <– technology must have gone backwards since then?