The US space program’s newest manned spacecraft has arrived in to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to finish preparations for a test flight in 2014.
The Orion spacecraft was welcomed by NASA officials who hope the program will make manned flight beyond low-Earth orbit possible.
“Now it is our time to put KSC’s knowledge, skills, and experience to work on Orion, the spacecraft that will carry us farther than we have ever been before,” said Senator Bill Nelson of Florida during the ceremony.
Orion is the agency’s first manned follow-up to the space shuttle, which is set to deliver probes and astronauts to Mars and nearby asteroids.
“Orion’s arrival at Kennedy is an important step in meeting the president’s goal to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.
“As NASA acquires services for delivery of cargo and crew to the International Space Station and other low-Earth destinations from private companies, NASA can concentrate its efforts on building America’s next generation space exploration system to reach destinations for discovery in deep space.”
The Orion capsule is larger than Apollo, the spacecraft that took man to the Moon, and will be able to function in a wider variety of roles and bear much more advanced equipment.
Constructed at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the Orion capsule will be completed by crews at the Kennedy Space Center.
The capsule’s unmanned test flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will take the Orion 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface, nearly 15 times higher in orbit than the International Space Station.
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