NASA unveils spacecraft that will take first woman to the moon

NASA and Vice President Mike Pence show off the completed Orion crew capsule for the Artemis moon mission.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Vice President Mike Pence announces the Orion crew capsule completion at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

NASA/Kim Shiflett

We're all still over the moon from the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Apollo 11 mission, but NASA is looking forward to its next moon landing. 

On Saturday, the space agency and Vice President Mike Pence announced the completion of the Orion crew capsule for the Artemis program.

"Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight," Pence said while speaking at at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during an Apollo 11 event.

It's not just the vessel itself that's ready. The European Space Agency's power-and-propulsion module is now being attached to Orion at the space center. Orion will then get a protective heat shield. The complete setup will be sent to Ohio for testing prior to the anticipated Artemis launch. 

Orion recently passed another milestone with the successful completion of an ascent abort test flight that put the crew escape system through its paces.

NASA has set an ambitious 2024 goal for landing the first woman and next man on the moon with a crewed Artemis mission. Orion is critical to making this happen, but space ventures have a knack for hitting delays. 

It remains to be seen if NASA's jumbo Space Launch System rocket will be able to keep up with the pace of Orion's development.

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