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NASA Receives Capsule for Moon, Mars Flights

The Orion space capsule has been delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a 2014 test flight. The capsule, designed and built by Lockheed-Martin, will eventually take astronauts to the  moon, asteroids, and even Mars. For the test flight, the capsule will be launched aboard an unmanned Delta 4 Heavy rocket.

NASA's Orion capsule has arrived in Florida. Image: NASA

Although it physically resembles Apollo-era capsules, it is significantly larger to accommodate more crew members and allow for longer flights, with an eye on eventual travel to Mars.

For two initial unmanned test flights, the capsule will first travel 10 times beyond where the International Space Station currently orbits, then return to Earth.

The second flight (in 2017) will send Orion around the moon. Manned flight will commence in 2021.

According to NASA:

Orion will return home at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour, almost 5,000 miles per hour faster than any human spacecraft. It will mimic the return conditions that astronauts experience as they come home from voyages beyond low Earth orbit. As Orion reenters the atmosphere, it will endure temperatures up to 4,000 degrees F., higher than any human spacecraft since astronauts returned from the moon.

Source: Reuters

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.