Washington: The US space agency, NASA on Thursday put the finishing touches on its Orion spacecraft designed to take humans into deep space.
This marks the conclusion of construction on the first spacecraft designed to carry humans beyond the moon, including a journey to Mars and asteroids. The spacecraft is gearing up to make its first test flight December 4 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
During the 4.5-hour flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion spacecraft will be launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket.
According to NASA, the December flight test will send Orion 3,600 miles from Earth on a two-orbit flight intended to ensure the spacecraft’s critical systems are ready for the challenges of deep space missions.
It will travel farther than any crewed spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years, before returning to Earth at speeds near 20,000 mph and generating temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, added NASA.
“This is just the first of what will be a long line of exploration missions beyond low earth orbit, and in a few years we will be sending our astronauts to destinations humans have never experienced,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development.
Built by Lockheed Martin for NASA and Airbus Defence and Space for the European Space Agency, each Orion spacecraft is projected to carry a crew of up to six astronauts.
The first crewed mission is expected to take place after 2020.