A mockup of the Orion capsule at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston shows the space agency’s next-generation spacecraft, designed to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit to the moon, asteroids, and Mars.
CREDIT: Orion Capsule Mockup

New NASA Spaceship Comes Together for 2014 Test Launch

by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE Assistant Managing Editor
Date: 26 October 2012 Time: 03:15 PM ET

The pieces are coming together for NASA’s newest spaceship Orion, with its first unmanned launch test scheduled for September 2014.

The Orion space capsule is designed to carry humans farther into the solar system than they’ve ever been by taking trips to the moon, asteroids and Mars.

It will be the first new spaceship built by NASA since the space shuttle was developed in the 1970s. The space agency is planning to outsource travel to low-Earth orbit, including the International Space Station, to the private space sector, allowing NASA itself to focus on traveling beyond.

“I think having a test flight in ’14 is huge — people can see it right there,” Orion program manager Mark Geyer told SPACE.com in September. “It’s a really important goal.”

Orion was originally conceived as a next-generation spacecraft, called the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, under NASA’s now-defunct Constellation program. When that program was cancelled by the Obama administration, the Orion design was carried forward as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

The engineering team behind the capsule has weathered political ups and downs, but say they are glad to be approaching flight time for the craft.

Read more: NASA's Orion Space Capsule Gears Up for 2014 Launch Test | Space.

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