NASA’s next Orion capsule arrived at Cape Canaveral Complex 37 launch pad on Tuesday night to get ready for the launch that is going to take place on December 4. The rocket, a Delta 4-Heavy, that will escort NASA’s next Orion capsule, is already at Cape Canaveral.
The next Orion spacecraft is going to be unmanned and the mission it has is to study how the capsule fares at an altitude of 3,600 miles through two orbits. NASA’s next Orion capsule is called the Exploration Flight Test No 1 and its official mission will most likely just take around 4 hours to be completed. It’s nothing to write home about, but the information it will gather will provide precious data that is going to help improve future manned capsules and spacecraft.
Lead flight director of Orion, Mike Sarafin, stated that this particular mission is very important as it enables human spaceflight to reach deep space and previously unimagined destinations:
The aerospace industry is a tough business as a whole. Anybody that’s been in this business for any amount of time understands it takes a great deal of fortitude and perseverance. We intend to test ourselves on this mission and we intend to test our spacecraft before we put humans on board.
NASA’s new Orion capsule will move twice around our planet and will crash into our atmosphere as it returns with speeds of up to 20,000 miles per hour. When that happens, it is expected that the capsule’s shield will reach the temperature of around 4,000 Fahrenheit. This heat test is done to simulate the temperatures the capsule would reach during a return from deep space. This is actually, the final destination and goal for NASA’s next Orion capsule. If and when that is going to happen, depends on the results gathered from the Exploration Flight Test No 1.
Deputy associate administrator of Exploration System Development, Bill Hill, said that testing is only the first step of a long line of missions meant to explore beyond the low orbit of Earth.