Orion Mars Capsule Confirms First Test Flight In December

NASA’s spacecraft, set to head to Mars, is inching closer towards blastoff as it enters its final stages of completion, according to the Daily Mail. And the world is counting down the days in anticipation.

The experimental Orion capsule will be launched into space using a colossal Delta IV Heavy Rocket that’s already on the launchpad, expected to be replaced by NASA’s much larger Space Launch system.

The built Orion crew module, service module, launch abort system, and adapter will lodge in Kennedy’s Launch Abort System Facility up until its roll out ascend to the launch pad on November 10th. Once there, it will be lifted onto the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket as it’s carried into space for its initial flight test, empty of passengers and crew members.

“This is just the first of what will be a long line of exploration missions beyond low earth orbit, and in a few years we will be sending our astronauts to destinations humans have never experienced,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development. “It’s thrilling to be a part of the journey now, at the beginning.”

“We’ve been working toward this launch for months, and we’re in the final stretch,” Kennedy Director Bob Cabana explained.

Just last month, the Delta IV Heavy rocket moved to the Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Built by United Launch Alliance, the rocket was fully tested, so that it could finally be connected to Orion’s service module. On Wednesday, after completing the first stage, it was raised in its vertical launch configuring.

“Orion is almost complete and the rocket that will send it into space is on the launch pad.” Cabana said. “We’re 64 days away from taking the next step in deep space exploration.”

On Sunday, Orion was transported out of the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as its launch abort system – designed to protect astronauts during launch – was fitted.

During the December, uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1, the jettison motor, which divides the launch abort system from the crew module, will be tested. Once the launch abort system is attached to the completed crew and service modules, and the three systems are then tested together, the Orion spacecraft will be considered finished.