12:04am

Wed July 4, 2012
Space Exploration

Colorado Designed Orion Spacecraft Delivered To NASA

Lockheed Martin has delivered the first space-bound Orion Spacecraft Crew Module to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The module was designed at the company’s Littleton facility and will be NASA’s first orbital test flight outside of Earth’s atmosphere since the 60’s.

The Orion Spacecraft Module is the world’s first spacecraft built specifically for interplanetary exploration. The craft will carry astronauts on deep space missions to asteroids or even Mars. Gary Napier is with Lockheed Martin. He says tests will be performed on the craft for the next year and a half in preparation for the NASA test flight.

“This capsule specifically is designed for an exploration test flight and it’s going to be launched in 2014. It’s going to be an un-crewed flight that’s going to fly the capsule 3600 miles outside earth and have it come back to earth and test many of the systems.”

According to a press release by NASA, the 2014 test flight will measure multiple areas of the program's design [.pdf] including:

  • Programmatic Risk Reduction: Critical flight data collected from EFT-1 will validate Orion’s ability to withstand re-entry speeds greater than 20,000 miles per hour and safely return the astronauts to Earth.
  • Technical Risk Reduction: Valuable data about key systems functions and capabilities such as kick stage processing on the launch pad, vehicle fueling and stacking, and crew module recovery will ensure these systems are designed and built correctly.

The capsule’s arrival at the Kennedy Space Center was nearly 50 years to the day of the opening of the facility.

If the spacecraft passes all required tests, NASA officials say Orion could be the principle spacecraft for the next 30 years of human exploration of the solar system.