The Orion spacecraft, also referred to as the “Mars ship”, experienced a successful preliminary flight test which last approximately 4 hours and 24 minutes. On Friday, December 5th 2014 the space capsule will launch out of Cape Canaveral, Florida and circumnavigated the Earth landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja Mexico.
Orion’s design takes after the famous Apollo spacecraft except with highly advanced technology systems and room for additional crew members. It has the capabilities to carry four passengers and is slated to become a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MVCP) for NASA to transport. Originally the concept came from the scrapped Constellation program as the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle which has received a new makeover.
NASA’s Orion vehicle has been in development by the aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin and hopes to take the first humans to Mars someday. Lockheed Martin will be orchestrating the launch with supervision and observation from NASA. The Orion capsule contains a unique feature that may become the standard for long range space travel with its radiation protection built into the capsule. Once outside the atmosphere radiation becomes a critical factor for the computer processors onboard the craft. Lockheed Martin has come up with solution to protect their microprocessors from radiation damage on the way to the Moon or Mars.
The launch was conducted with a Delta IV Heavy rocket, manufactured by United Launch Alliance, but will likely see a dedicated rocket designed by Lockheed Martin on its first deployment. Its primary role will be to transport people and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) with a secondary focus on taking crew to asteroids and Mars. Three main components make up the spacecraft: the launch abort system just below the nose of the rocket, the Crew Module and a lower Service Module.
Despite the success of the initial flight test, dubbed Exploration Flight Test (EFT-1), NASA admits it will be a long time before we will actually be able to land humans on Mars. Orion spacecraft’s completion is just the first step for a mission to Mars, however further technology to sustain the life of the crew on an alien planet is still required to achieve this. This fact has some skeptical about the follow through on the project by NASA due to budget cuts and a lack of funding. A manned launch is scheduled for year 2020 to 2021 but further details on a mission to land a crew on a planetary object has not been clearly defined by NASA.Tags: nasa, spacecraft