NASA’s newest space vehicle Orion went shooting 3, 600 miles out of the earth on Dec 5, Friday. The hyperfast, hot run by a space shuttle was not seen since moon shots by Apollo. With Orion, it is NASA’s first step in deep space. It was successfully launched into Earth orbit after a four and half hours of flight test.
The spacecraft was tested for the effectiveness of the heat shield and other systems that are needed to send astronauts beyond the Earth. Test has been done to send man to asteroid and then ultimately Mars. This unscrewed mission by the NASA is called Exploration Flight Test-1 or EFT-1. This is the first time in 42 years since the Apollo program by the space agency hat a space capsule designed for taking man in flight, has flown.
Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator said, “(This flight) is building upon the legacy of Apollo. For the first time in more than 40 years, this nation is going to launch a spacecraft intended to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit. That’s a big deal.” It’s the space agency’s first new vehicle for space travel in a long time since the space shuttle.
The spacecraft was due for test flight on Thursday. But wind problems in the hydrogen valves, and sluggish valves of the rocket halted the launch. However, the conditions were favorable on Friday. With the largest ever heat shield, Orion came back through the atmosphere on the earth at 20, 000mph, tolerating about 4000 degrees of heat!
Orion was placed atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket. It is considered to be one the most powerful rocket today. The launch happened at the Complex 37B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Commenting on the launch, SEP of United Launch Alliance, Tony Bruno said, “It all comes to life with two million pounds of thrust, lifting Orion on just a fountain of fire at an impossible speed out into space.”