Orion Capsule for Deep Space Exploration at Kennedy Center
NASA's first Orion vehicle developed to fly astronauts to asteroids, the moon and to Mars has been delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This spacecraft that will launched in 2014 on a test mission. Designed to carry on board only four crew members, Orion will make it first two flights unmanned.
Built by Lockheed Martian, the Orion spacecraft has a green interior pressure vessel that constitutes the core of the firs Orion capsule delivered. Next year there will attachment made like heat shield, installation of avionics system and flight computers is targeted for launch aboard an unmanned Delta 4 Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to the NASA spaceport.
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According to Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, "It's not a PowerPoint chart. It's a real spacecraft moving toward a test flight in 2014. As KSC celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, I can't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate than by having the very first Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle here at KSC. Orion is ushering in a new era of space exploration beyond our home planet, enabling us to go farther than we've ever gone before."
The 2014 launch is intended to test Orion's heat shield, parachutes and other systems. This space capsule is expected to reach an orbit (nearly 3450 miles above Earth) which is 10 times beyond the range of the International Space Station orbit.
The second test flight will be in 2017 using NASA's planned heavy lift space launch system rocket. This test is intended to put an unmanned Orion capsule around the moon. By 2025, NASA intends to send astronauts to explore a near-Earth asteroid and then head on to Mars in the 2030s.
It is reported that along with preparations to the spacecraft, Kennedy's facilities are being restored to handle the next generation of rockets and spacecraft.
William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate at NASA in Washington, said "Work is under way on America's next great spacecraft that will surpass the boundaries within which humanity has been held. In a facility that once processed cargo for space shuttles and various components for the International Space Station, hundreds of people at Kennedy are coupling advanced hardware assembly systems with a new human-rated spacecraft designed for deep space travel."