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NASA's deep-space craft readying for launch

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by micropage7, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. micropage7


    Mar 26, 2010
    6,973 (3.36/day)
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    Jakarta, Indonesia
    The U.S. space shuttle program retired
    in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike
    into orbit. But after three long years, NASA 's
    successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
    Orion, the agency's newest manned spaceship, is
    being prepared for its first mission in December.
    In future missions, it will journey into deep space
    -- to Mars and beyond -- farther than humans
    have ever gone before.
    Orion comes loaded with superlatives . It boasts
    the largest heat shield ever built and a computer
    400 times faster than the ones on the space
    shuttles. It will be launched into space on the
    most powerful rocket NASA has ever made.
    No astronauts will be aboard the December flight,
    which will test the spacecraft's systems for future
    manned missions.

    Final work on the spacecraft is under way at the
    Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orion came one
    step closer to completion this month with the
    stacking of the crew module atop the service
    "Now that we're getting so close to launch, the
    spacecraft completion work is visible every day,"
    Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer said in a
    A 3,600-mile journey
    When complete, the Orion capsule will resemble a
    fencing foil, with a tall spire shooting up from a
    rounded base. At the top will sit a launch abort
    system, with downward-facing thrusters that
    would save the crew from a jarring crash in the
    event of a rocket malfunction.
    The bottom portion, the service module, will
    perform various functions such as in-space
    propulsion and cargo storage. Nestled between
    the two will be the crew module, capable of
    supporting human life from launch until recovery.
    Attached to the service module will be a United
    Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. For the
    first time since the space shuttle's debut launch
    in 1981, the crew compartment will ride on the tip
    of the rocket rather than hanging onto its side,
    evoking the configuration of the famous Apollo or
    Gemini missions.
    Come December, Orion will be wheeled onto the
    Cape Canaveral launch pad and the countdown
    will begin. If all goes as planned, the engines will
    rumble and its rocket will thunder in an explosion
    of liquid oxygen, thrusting it toward the stars.
    The rocket will carry the modules 3,600 miles
    above Earth, or about 16 times higher than the
    average altitude of the International Space
    Station. Orion "is built to take humans farther
    than they've ever gone before," NASA says.
    Orion will orbit our planet twice on its own during
    a 4½-hour journey before screaming back into the
    Earth's atmosphere at nearly 20,000 miles per
    hour and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
    Future missions
    Orion astronauts will enjoy access to
    unprecedented space travel technology.
    NASA says the spacecraft's onboard computer
    system can process 480 million instructions per
    second, which is 400 times faster than the
    systems on the space shuttle and 4,000 times
    faster than those on the Apollo flights of the
    1960s and early 1970s.
    Orion also boasts the largest heat shield ever
    built, designed to withstand temperatures that
    would cause a nuclear reactor to melt down.
    "Orion's flight test will provide us with important
    data that will help us test out systems and
    further refine the design so we can safely send
    humans far into the solar system to uncover new
    scientific discoveries on future missions," Geyer
    After Orion splashes down, NASA will begin
    preparing the spacecraft for the future manned
    missions for which it was designed.
    "In the future, Orion will launch on NASA's new
    heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System," the
    agency said. "More powerful than any rocket ever
    built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to
    deep space destinations such as an asteroid and
    eventually Mars."
    The first astronauts will travel into space aboard
    Orion in 2017. NASA hopes its Exploration
    Mission-1, a 25-day flight around the moon's
    dark side, will demonstrate Orion's reliability for
    deep space missions.
    Exploration Mission-1 will send four astronauts
    farther than any human has been since the last
    Apollo moon mission in 1972, laying the
    groundwork for future endeavors.
    NASA hopes Orion will ring in a new era for
    crewed American space exploration, and American
    flags may someday fly on more space outposts
    than just the moon.

    rtwjunkie says thanks.

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