The Orion Spacecraft Is Almost Complete... And Will Take Humans Back to the Moon

Wednesday, 29 August 2018 - 12:40PM
Technology
NASA
Space
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 - 12:40PM
The Orion Spacecraft Is Almost Complete... And Will Take Humans Back to the Moon
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Image Credit: NASA
Over the last seven months, technicians at Lockheed Martin have been carefully welding together the components of the capsule of the Orion spacecraft, the first manned deep-space exploration vehicle NASA has created in a generation. Now complete, the capsule has been shipped from New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center, and arrived last week. Now begins the process of assembling the rest of the spacecraft, whose first uncrewed mission (dubbed Exploration Mission 1, or EM-1) is scheduled to take place in June 2020. If EM-1 hits its benchmarks and returns safely to Earth, EM-2 will launch a crew to fly around the Moon.

"We're all taking extra care with this build and assembly, knowing that this spaceship is going to take astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in four decades," remarked Matt Wallo, senior manager of Lockheed Martin Orion Production. "It's amazing to think that, one day soon, the crew will watch the sun rise over the lunar horizon through the windows of this pressure vessel. We're all humbled and proud to be doing our part for the future of exploration."

The Orion spacecraft won't just be the first spacecraft to take humans back to the Moon: NASA envisions it as the vehicle to push the boundaries of human exploration. According to NASA, Orion will "fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown...[and] stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before." If the Dragon Capsule and Falcon Heavy rockets are SpaceX's answers to the question of space colonization, Orion is NASA's.

Speaking of SpaceX, they've got a historic moment coming up, too—if their Demonstration Mission 1 goes well this November, they may get the green light to become the first private company to carry a crew into a space.

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