NASA Powers Up Orion Spacecraft That Will Take Humans To Mars And Beyond

Posted: Aug 26 2017, 8:49am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 26 2017, 9:03am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Powers Up Orion Spacecraft That Could One Day Take Humans to Mars and Beyond
Credit: NASA

Orion spacecraft is designed to take humans farther into space than they have ever gone before

Orion spacecraft has reached a major milestone before its nearly three-week Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). On Tuesday morning, NASA’s first-ever deep space craft has been powered on for the first time. NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers switched on computer system of the spacecraft and tested its efficiency. The spacecraft will travel thousands of miles beyond the moon during the upcoming EM-1 mission and will pave the way for future deep space missions with humans.

Orion spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. So it is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the spacecraft.

“The initial power-on procedure verified the health and status of Orion’s core computers and power and data units and marks the beginning of critical spacecraft subsystem tests to get us ready for flight," said Mark Kirasich, NASA Orion program manager. “Our test team, ground support equipment and flight systems all performed remarkably well during the test. This is a major milestone for Orion and for our long range deep space exploration plans.”

Orion will serve as vehicle that will take humans to an asteroid, Moon, Mars or throughout the solar system, providing NASA an entirely new human space exploration capability. The Orion spacecraft is the first deep space craft since NASA's Apollo capsule that carried astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. The shape of Orion is also similar to the Apollo capsule, but the new vehicle is bigger and will accommodate up to six astronauts.

The first manned flight of Orion spacecraft will not take place until 2021 while an unmanned test flight around the moon is scheduled for 2019. More computer systems will be installed and tested in the next few weeks.

“The spacecraft’s power and data units and core computers will continue to undergo additional testing of various components over the next two to three months." Rafael Garcia, NASA Orion program test and verification lead at Kennedy said.

The spacecraft is placed in Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is tested against the challenges of space. It has already gone through a series of flight tests like heat shield, parachutes and key separation events. These tests will help ensure risk free journey to different estinations in solar system and a safe reentry from deep space.

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