NASA's Orion Spacecraft is Go for First Orbital Test Flight - Update

NASA's Orion Spacecraft is Go for First Orbital Test Flight - Update

Thursday's test flight is the first in orbit for NASA, Lockheed Martin.

Update: Success! The Orion spacecraft launched at 7:05am ET today, and all mission objectives were completed without major incident.

The primary objective during this "shakedown mission" for Orion was to complete two orbits around the Earth, during which the capsule would reach a maximum height of 3,600 miles. NASA also successfully activated Orion's Launch Abort System, and Spacecraft Adapter Jettison panels.

Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean occurred at 11:29am ET, and the Orion landed approximately 275 miles off the coast of Baja, Mexico. The mission is still technically active, as thermal data is being collected post-landing. Once that aspect of the mission is complete, and all systems are powered down, the recovery ships on standby will move in, and collect Orion from the sea.

There's a live feed of the mission from NASA here. Currently, the feed is coming from a NASA UAV, which is monitoring the splashdown location from the skies above the Pacific near the Southwestern United States. The YouTube link to the right is of the successful launch earlier this morning.

The primary recovery vessel is the USS Anchorage, a a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock built in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Original Story: Humankind is taking yet another step towards boots-on-the-ground Mars exploration, as NASA and Lockheed Martin prepare to conduct the first in-orbit test of the Orion spacecraft.

NASA Orion Spacecraft 310x

Thursday will mark the first time the Orion capsule heads into space, blasting off atop one of NASA's Delta IV rocket systems. Once in place, Orion will orbit about 3,600 miles above our little blue marble, which is 15 times higher up than the International Space Station. Orion will then orbit the Earth twice, replete with 1,200 sensors to determine any number of things -- durability above all else.

This test, officially called "Exploration Flight Test-1," will also be unmanned -- not a surprise, given it's Orion's first trip into space -- and the trip will last a total of about four and a half hours. This Orion test, while human-free, will be the furthest a (designed for humans) space capsule has flown since the Apollo missions of old.

The launch is planned for 7:05am ET, and will take place at Cape Canaveral, Florida. If weather is a factor, the launch window is a little over two hours.

The longer timeline for the Orion spacecraft includes several missions, including a potential two-man lunar asteroid exploration mission around 2021, and an eventual Mars mission that could happen as soon as the early 2030s. For these missions, NASA would ditch the smaller, older Delta IV rocket for the under-construction SLS platform.

Source: NASA

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Come on ESA, the challenge has been set. Beat NASA to Mars!

OT: About time this thing got off the ground, for what's essentially an updated design from the 50's it had better work first go or else NASA should hand in its nerd card :-P

Edit: Actually I may be thinking of the SLS in regards to reused design, my bad.

Well, then. We're finally breaking orbit again.

Turbolifts are becoming reality, we carry miniature touch screen computers in our pockets and new calculations show that Warping space is not only theoretically possible but might be viable as well.

It's starting to look more and more like Star Trek, all the time.

I am offended that a spacecraft called "Orion" does not use nuclear bombs as a propulsion system.
Otherwise, good on NASA, it's high time we went beyond space tech that was invented decades ago.

TheSYLOH:
I am offended that a spacecraft called "Orion" does not use nuclear bombs as a propulsion system.
Otherwise, good on NASA, it's high time we went beyond space tech that was invented decades ago.

Yeah I saw that and went "Oh PLEASE tell me Orion is the name of the vessel itself and it's not an Orion class vessel. I don't want to be irrecoverably irradiated."

Product Placement:
Well, then. We're finally breaking orbit again.

Turbolifts are becoming reality, we carry miniature touch screen computers in our pockets and new calculations show that Warping space is not only theoretically possible but might be viable as well.

It's starting to look more and more like Star Trek, all the time.

Better than Star Trek even, our tablets are so much better than anything we've seen in Star Trek.

Also, I knew about theoretical warp technology, but calculations showing that it's viable? Got a source for that one?

LordLundar:

TheSYLOH:
I am offended that a spacecraft called "Orion" does not use nuclear bombs as a propulsion system.
Otherwise, good on NASA, it's high time we went beyond space tech that was invented decades ago.

Yeah I saw that and went "Oh PLEASE tell me Orion is the name of the vessel itself and it's not an Orion class vessel. I don't want to be irrecoverably irradiated."

Wasn't it the idea to only use the nuclear propulsion only when they left orbit? Which means that the radiation problem is less of a problem? Because you have to heavily shield yourself against radiation during long-distance space travel anyway.

Also, apparently the Orion-class concept has seen a kind-of revitalization relatively recently.

Its always nice to see continued trials of space development. I'm surprised by how high they are putting it up there. Radiation testing?

RicoADF:
Come on ESA, the challenge has been set. Beat NASA to Mars!

Funny you should mention that.

It's actually ESA who made the Service Module on the Orion. So NASA's Orion wont be going anywhere without ESA.

Cowabungaa:

Product Placement:
Well, then. We're finally breaking orbit again.

Turbolifts are becoming reality, we carry miniature touch screen computers in our pockets and new calculations show that Warping space is not only theoretically possible but might be viable as well.

It's starting to look more and more like Star Trek, all the time.

Better than Star Trek even, our tablets are so much better than anything we've seen in Star Trek.

Eh, I'm not so sure about that. Trouble with fictional computers is they are often limited in what they appear to be capable of based on the realworld tech of the time...

And the last depiction of a tablet-like device in Star Trek was the mid 90's...

They are however so commonplace in Star Trek that they get treated with little thought.

Witness Picard having a pile of 4 or 5 of them on his desk, and using them as though they were reports printed on sheets of paper.

Why switch between documents on one device, when you can simply have them open seperately on multiple devices... XD

But people love to extrapolate in nonsensical directions sometimes.

Like, I remember a person claiming that the way Data phrased a search term given as a verbal instruction to the ship's computer meant the Enterprise computer was less capable than google.

They decided this because Data chose to perform a search with one keyword, then add keywords progressively to narrow the results...

When was the last time you tried to do a sub-search within the results of a previous set of search results? XD - Most current-day search systems aren't designed with that in mind, and adding extra terms merely throws out the old results and finds a whole set of new ones. And how does this one example prove anything about the computer's capabilities in the first place?

MrFalconfly:
Funny you should mention that.

It's actually ESA who made the Service Module on the Orion. So NASA's Orion wont be going anywhere without ESA.

That does not surprise me at all.

OT: Congratulations go out to NASA for a successful test flight. Keep up the good work!

TheSYLOH:
I am offended that a spacecraft called "Orion" does not use nuclear bombs as a propulsion system.

That would be a bitch to get off earth, can you guess why? :3

Svarr:

TheSYLOH:
I am offended that a spacecraft called "Orion" does not use nuclear bombs as a propulsion system.

That would be a bitch to get off earth, can you guess why? :3

Nope, the orion system had a feasibility study done for orbital insertion.
Here is a video of them using a mock up with c4 instead of nukes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQCrPNEsQaY

It works fine for getting stuff off earth.
It just kinda sucks for everyone down wind of the launch zone.

Still some scientist have proposed this.
You make one launch with nukes. To launch a single VERY LARGE orbital solar collector.
The amount of people dying from the fallout would be smaller than the people who would die from coal/oil pollution.
Of course alot of people took issue this analysis....

Cowabungaa:

Product Placement:
Well, then. We're finally breaking orbit again.

Turbolifts are becoming reality, we carry miniature touch screen computers in our pockets and new calculations show that Warping space is not only theoretically possible but might be viable as well.

It's starting to look more and more like Star Trek, all the time.

Better than Star Trek even, our tablets are so much better than anything we've seen in Star Trek.

Also, I knew about theoretical warp technology, but calculations showing that it's viable? Got a source for that one?

Sorry for super late reply. I only periodically check my account.

When I said viable, I meant they managed to reduce the energy calculations from all the energy production in our solar system (including the sun) to about annual energy production of the US. Still redonkulously allot but at least something that we can perceivably produce.

The original math was from 1994, but short of converting all of Jupiter into pure energy, just for a single jump, it was only considered a modest thought experiment, until the more economic calculations were presented int 2012.

NASA has yet to prove that warp fields can be created, but they're confident that the math behind it is solid. Enough so that they've they've been trying to create micro distortions in their labs, at least.

Here's an article about it.
Paper itself.

Edit:
-chuckle- You know. It's starting to become more and more common that I'm asked to provide a source for the stuff I talk about. While it obviously translates into more work for me, digging up old articles I remember reading about, I consider it a welcome change. A sign that people aren't willing to blindly accept everything that's spouted online, without a proper citation.

 

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