The stars are aligning for the December 4 debut mission of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, following the completion of the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) – albeit with three “actions” to satisfy ahead of flight. The vehicle also completed all assembly tasks and is almost ready to meet up with her Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle for the key test flight of NASA’s deep space exploration crew transport.
It’s been a long road for the first flight-worthy Orion to get to this stage of her flow, as she prepares to kick start NASA’s eventual – if undefined – path towards human footprints on Mars.
That mission may never happen, given it’s subject to the support of several future Presidents in succession, who will need to approve and fund such an ambitious goal. However, Orion’s first flight will be a step towards that aspiration.
This first flight, scheduled to launch on December 4, will see the uncrewed EFT-1 Orion being launched on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket, lofted to 3,600 miles beyond Earth, before returning at a velocity of approximately 20,000 mph for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The mission will provide engineers with data about ...