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December 1-7, 2014 / Vol 33, No 48 / Hawai`i Island, USA

27 Nov 2014, 00:49 UTC
December 1-7, 2014 / Vol 33, No 48 / Hawai`i Island, USA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Orion Capsule First Test Flight Crucial for Human Deep Space Missions

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is set to launch to ~5,800 km altitude atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on December 4, 2014 at 07:05 EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37B in Florida. It will travel farther from Earth than any crew vehicle has since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The 4-hr 23-min 29-sec Exploration Flight Test-1 will test the 5-meter diameter heat shield, parachute systems, avionics, launch abort system and attitude control. After 2 orbits of Earth, the 8,600-kg crew module is expected to separate from the mock-up service module / Delta 4 upper stage and reenter Earth atmosphere at ~32,000 kph, reaching temperatures of ~2,200°C (4,000°F) – about 80% as hot as Orion would experience returning from lunar orbit. Its parachute system should deploy about 4 minutes before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean ~1,000 km west of Baja CA to slow the spacecraft to ~32 kph. This test must be successful to reach the target date of September 30, 2018 for uncrewed circumlunar trajectory 7-day Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) launching aboard the Space Launch System rocket. The first crewed ...

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