Thursday, December 4, 2014

Orion's first test flight today

Today, NASA tests what it sees as its next giant leap, Orion.  Under the "if it moves, it leads" guideline, PBS NewsHour gets the honor of going first with Before NASA pioneers to Mars, Orion spacecraft faces tests.

NASA envisions a human presence on Mars in 20 years. But how will we get there? The Orion spacecraft, an unmanned capsule, will launch on its maiden voyage as an important test for future missions. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on the engineering hurdles as well as the budgetary ones.
CNN has more in NASA 'go' for its next giant leap into space.
It's the biggest countdown for NASA since the shuttle era ended in 2011. The space agency's new Orion spacecraft is scheduled to lift off on an uncrewed test flight at 7:05 a.m. ET Thursday from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"We haven't had this feeling in awhile, since the end of the shuttle program," Mike Sarafin, Orion flight director at Johnson Space Center, said in a preflight briefing on Wednesday. He said it's the beginning of something new: exploring deep space.

Orion looks like a throwback to the Apollo era, but it is roomier and designed to go far beyond the moon: to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

"It is, I think, consistent with those -- the beginning of shuttle and beginning of Apollo," said Mark Geyer, NASA Orion program manager. "I think it's in the same category."
NASA has its own video about the launch: Orion Trial By Fire.

For a more comprehensive look at the mission, Charlie Jane Anders of io9 reports Everything You Need To Know About NASA's Next Deep Space Mission.
NASA is dreaming big and working hard. Orion is the result, the first step in opening up deep space exploration to humans — and hopefully, bringing people to Mars. The spacecraft undergoes its first test flight next week, and here's everything you need to know about it.

Meet Orion, NASA's New Deep Space Explorer

The largest rocket on the planet is about to carry NASA's dreams into a highly inclined orbit around the Earth. Exploration Test Flight-1, the first uncrewed full-system test flight for the new Orion spacecraft is December 4th. Here's what it is, why it's awesome, and how it's the first step in NASA's Next Giant Leap.
Follow over the jump for more from NASA, along with all of the Orion-related news I've included in Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos since NASA's next giant leap and other space and astronomy news.

NASA has been keeping the subscribers to its YouTube channel informed about Orion's progress with weekly updates as part of This Week @NASA.  Here are the reports in reverse chronological order going all the way back to the first week of August, beginning with Orion rolled out and mated on This Week @NASA.

In preparation for its first spaceflight test next month, NASA’s Orion spacecraft was transported from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Abort System Facility to Space Launch Complex 37 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 11, arriving at the launch pad early Nov. 12. NASA’s new deep space exploration capsule then was attached to the top of the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry it to space for the Dec. 4 test. Also, ISS crew returns safely, Earth Science research to continue with developing nations, Rosetta update, Rocks and Robots and more!
NASA: Orion flight test previewed on This Week @NASA

A NASA media briefing on Nov. 6 at Kennedy Space Center highlighted the fully assembled Orion spacecraft and details of its first test flight, scheduled for Dec. 4. The 4 and-a-half hour flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will send Orion 3,600 miles from Earth on a two-orbit flight to confirm its critical systems are ready for the challenges of eventually sending astronauts on deep space missions to an asteroid and Mars. Also, Delta IV Heavy wet dress test, Next ISS crew trains, Space agency leaders support ISS, Curiosity confirms orbital data and more!
NASA: Orion moved at Kennedy Space Center on This Week @NASA

On Sept. 28, NASA’s Orion spacecraft was moved from Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to its Launch Abort System Facility, for installation of its launch abort system, one of the many critical safety systems that will be evaluated during Orion’s un-crewed Exploration Flight Test -1, in December. NASA’s new deep space capsule is being developed to safely transport astronauts to and from Mars and other destinations on future missions. Also, Delta IV Heavy moved to the launch pad, U.S. spacewalks previewed, NASA and India to discuss joint exploration, Helicopter safety crash test, Combined Federal Campaign underway and Stop, Think, Connect!
NASA: Rocket welding tool ready on This Week @NASA

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, other NASA officials and representatives from The Boeing Company participated in a September 12 ribbon cutting for the new 170-foot-high Vertical Assembly Center at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Vertical Assembly Center is a new tool that will be used to assemble parts of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will send humans to an asteroid and Mars. The administrator also visited Stennis Space Center in nearby Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where engineers plan to test the RS-25 engines that will power the core stage of SLS. Also, Orion moved for fueling, Curiosity to climb Martian mountain, Possible geological activity on Europa, Expedition 40 returns, Earth Science on ISS and Hurricane-hunting aircraft!
NASA: Orion’s protective backshell installed on This Week @NASA

Engineers at Kennedy Space Center have finished installing the Orion spacecraft’s backshell – the black protective tiles on the cone-shaped sides of NASA’s new deep space capsule. The backshell tiles are the same type that protected the underside of space shuttles -- and will not only provide protection from debris while in space but from extreme temperatures in that area of the spacecraft as it returns from space – which could exceed 31-hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Also, SLS anti-geyser testing, Webb’s replica backplane, Arctic Sea ice loss, Ancient Earth, Alien Earths and more!
NASA: Orion recovery test update on This Week @NASA

NASA wrapped up its second Underway Recovery Test Aug. 4 with the Orion spacecraft, off the coast of San Diego, California. The agency teamed with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense's Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to evaluate primary and alternative methods to recover Orion after the spacecraft safely splashes down in the ocean at the conclusion of future deep space missions. Orion’s first spaceflight test with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is targeted for December. Also, Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator update, 2nd anniversary: 7 Minutes of Terror, Bolden visits MMS at Naval Research Lab, Scanning for algal blooms, Earth science showcase, and more!
NASA: Preparing for Orion Recovery Test on This Week @NASA

NASA and the U.S. Navy were busy recently – preparing for tests scheduled off the coast of San Diego, California. Crews will run through the procedures to recover NASA's Orion spacecraft from the ocean, following its water landing from deep space missions. Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations are all involved in the recovery effort. Also, Mars 2020 rover and beyond, Opportunity: 25 miles and counting, Updated K-Rex rover, Automated Transfer Vehicle launch and NASA Technology Days!
Here's to a successful test flight.  May it bring me and other space enthusiasts joy.

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