AKIPRESS.COM - The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced it has completed the Orion Spaceship and it is now ready for its first test flight set for 4 December, RIA Novosti said.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), developed and built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., shares a similar design to that of the Apollo Program’s space capsule. It consists of the crew module, the service module, the launch abort system and an adapter. The new spacecraft is more spacious than the Apollo module as it is able to carry 4 crew members as compared to the latter’s capacity of 3 humans aboard.
The new spaceship is designed to take human astronauts to asteroids and to Mars.
During the first test flight, the unmanned Orion will be launched by a Delta IV heavy rocket to 15 times the height of the International Space station. The complex two-orbit test flight will last 4.5 hours, as Orion will go around Earth twice at a different height each time.
The spaceship will be moved to the launch site on 10 November, but until then it will be storage at the Orion Facilities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Orion is to make its first flight with human crew aboard in 2021. Initially the Orion project was launched in late-2000s in order to develop a replacement spacecraft for the obsolete space shuttle program. Orion is part of the Constellation Program, whose ultimate goal is to renew human exploration of the Moon.
According to President Barack Obama, NASA's primary goal is to land an astronaut of a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 and deliver a human expedition to Mars around 2030.