It may look a little underwhelming but this tiny craft’s lofty aim is to take astronauts out of an Earth orbit for the first time since the 1970s – and possibly land man on Mars.
In front of far more than 450 guests and dignitaries, Nasa officially unveiled the Orion crew capsule at a ‘welcoming ceremony’ at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Regardless of funding and arranging cuts at the space agency, the capsule is part of a concerted effort to kickstart a new era in deep space exploration by humans.
Pressure shell: Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center. In the next 18 months the shell will be packed with avionics, instrumentation an flight computers
Taking shape: The Orion, which mimics the classic conical shape of the Apollo mission crew capsules, is one of the most advanced craft ever built
This capsule is not a mock-up or scale model but a working piece of space kit that is bound for an unmanned test flight in 2014.
It will be shot into orbit atop a Delta 4 rocket, speeding about the Earth 3,600 miles above the surface – which is about 15 times additional out than the current International Space Station orbit.
After two complete orbits, the capsule will re-enter the atmosphere at more than 20,000mph to test the craft and its heat shield.
Lori Garver, Nasa’s deputy administrator, told the assembled crowd: ‘This starts a new, exciting chapter in this nation’s great space exploration story.
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In front of more than 450 guests and dignitaries, Nasa officially unveiled the Orion crew capsule at a ‘welcoming ceremony’ at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Despite funding and planning cuts at the space agency, the capsule is part of a concerted effort to kickstart a new era in deep space exploration by humans.
It’s no Prometheus, but the spacecraft shown in the photo above is what NASA will use to put a man on the planet Mars. Yesterday, NASA unveiled the Orion passenger module at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Orion crew still has plenty of work to do on the vehicle before it logs any time away from the ground, but NASA plans to have it run…