NASA unveils its Orion deep-space capsule (pictures)
Orion, the centerpiece of NASA's post-shuttle push to break out of low Earth orbit, arrives this week at Kennedy Space Center, but its first manned launch isn't until around 2021.
Unveiling the Orion spacecraft
Calling it an exciting chapter in the United States' great space exploration story, NASA this week unveiled the Orion capsule, which will eventually take astronauts on missions to destinations far beyond Earth, to such places as asteroids and Mars.
Orion will be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed. It will provide emergency abort capability, sustain astronauts during space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space. The craft will carry astronauts farther into space than ever before. Orion will launch atop the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA's next flagship rocket currently under design.
At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, the first space-bound Orion capsule is packed up for shipment to the Kennedy Space Center for final processing and outfitting. (It arrived this week). The spacecraft will fly on Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014.
From left, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, and NASA Deputy Director Lori Garver discuss NASA's first space-bound Orion capsule in Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building high bay following an event marking the spacecraft's arrival in Florida.
At NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., SLS Spacecraft & Payload Integration Manager David Beaman, Adapter Subsystem Manager Brent Gaddes, and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to Stage Adapter Lead Myron Tapscott discuss the machining of an aluminum adapter ring similar to the design needed for Exploration Flight.