The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed that its latest Orion spacecraft is complete. Orion is expected to assist human travel into deep space such as Mars.
Humans have reached the space and have also landed on the surface of the Moon. Many scientists have long hoped to land on the surface of Mars and it seems that the Orion spacecraft will help scientists achieve the dream.
The Orion spacecraft received its finishing touches on Thursday, Oct. 30, in the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The spacecraft will stay there till Nov. 10 before being taken to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 37 where it will be tested on Dec. 4.
The unmanned test flight of the Orion is expected to evaluate the spacecraft's launch as well as its great speed re-entry systems like attitude control, avionics, heat shield and parachutes. The Orion will initially be launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket. However, it is expected that future Orion launches will be on the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA's latest heavy-lift rocket.
NASA claims that the SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built, which will be capable of sending manned spacecraft in deep space asteroids and possibly Mars. Various space agencies across the world including NASA have successfully launched their unmanned spacecraft to the Red Planet. However, no human has reached beyond the Moon.
"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," says Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development. "It's thrilling to be a part of the journey now, at the beginning."
The Dec. 4 test flight of the Orion will send the spacecraft 3,600 miles away from the Earth. The test flight will last for about 4.5 hours and will be called Exploration Flight Test-1. The spacecraft will travel in the space beyond any manned spacecraft has ever gone. Orion will return to the Earth at an immense speed of about 20,000 miles per hour and it will generate temperatures of up to 2204 degrees Celsius, or 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Orion is ready for a test flight but it remains to be seen how many more years it takes for man to actually land of the surface of the Red Planet.