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The Orion capsule arriving at the Kennedy Space Center  (Source:
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida is where the capsule will be fully built

NASA's future form of transportation into deep space, the Orion capsule, made its way to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Friday on Friday, June 29. There, the spacecraft will be built in its entirety.

The Orion capsule, which is designed by Lockheed Martin, will eventually take astronauts into deep space to locations like asteroids and Mars. It will be the most advanced spacecraft ever, with the ability to provide safe re-entry from deep space, a way to sustain astronauts in space, and an emergency abort option. The Orion spacecraft was first unveiled by Lockheed Martin in early 2011.

"This starts a new, exciting chapter in this nation's great space exploration story," said Lori Garver, NASA deputy administrator. "Today we are lifting our spirits to new heights."

The first step, once the Orion capsule is completely built, will be to send the upcoming spacecraft on a test flight in 2014. The test flight, which will not carry a crew, is called Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), and will launch Orion into orbit via the Delta IV-Heavy rocket. The point of EFT-1 is to see how the spacecraft handles different situations in space.

If all goes well with EFT-1, the Orion capsule will take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit via the new Space Launch System (SLS), which is NASA's latest heavy lift vehicle that will also be used as the backup for international and commercial partner transportation to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Orion capsule is set to launch atop the SLS in 2017. The Orion is set to be the main mode of deep space transportation for about 30 years.

"Ladies and gentleman, we're going to Mars," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). "We know the Orion capsule is a critical part of the system that's going to take us there."

Back in February, NASA said it was preparing to explore the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2), which is one of NASA's planned exploration points beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA said EML-2 could be the first step in the "capability-driven" exploration of other space sites like asteroids, the moon and Mars. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged NASA to put a man on an asteroid by 2025 and explore Mars in 2030.

Source: NASA

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So I am looking at this and I am thinking...
By ViroMan on 7/3/2012 3:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
Its awfully small for something that will carry a few(2-3) guys to mars and back for such a long time. Can they really cram that much food and oxygen into a can that small for that many days?

Don't they have mandatory exercise everyday. Where is the space to do there jogging in place?

Where is the bathroom? "hey guys I am gana take a sh*t now... turn your heads for a while."

Does it have deploy able solar panels if not wtf are they using because lithium batteries wouldn't cut it for that distance and back.

By JediJeb on 7/3/2012 6:58:26 PM , Rating: 4
From looking at it, it is obvious how it works. In the center there is a nice shiny pole, and the astronauts hold on to the pole and run around that flat "ring" near the base for their exercise. This has two benefits. First they get their exercise, second it makes the capsule spin which will give them some artificial gravity while they sit and eat their dinner.

By mellomonk on 7/5/2012 3:20:23 AM , Rating: 2
The waste collection facility is behind the seating bulkhead. The Orion interior can be fitted out in several ways. It can hold as many as 7 for LEO missions, but is designed for a crew of 4 for missions outside of earth orbit. There are several service module designs all of which feature circular solar panels but also contain a modular power system that can accommodate batteries and/or fuel cells. Despite what several of the sources indicated above say, the Orion would only be part of a deep space spacecraft. There would be an additional habitat/mission module. There are many pdfs with technical details available on the various NASA websites. Though frankly many are out of date since the Orion has had many changes since the it's inception in the early 2000s.

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