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Orion Spacecraft

Technicians powering up Orion (Image: Lockheed Martin)

NASA took another step back into the astronaut-launching business when it announced on Monday that last week it had powered up the crew capsule of the Orion spacecraft for the first time. According to the space agency, the test of the spacecraft’s avionics systems, conducted at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is a major milestone in preparing the craft for its first unmanned test flight in the autumn of next year.  Read More

Concept image showing Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle (I...

NASA has released new concept images and animations outlining one version of its plan to capture an asteroid with an unmanned craft and return it to lunar orbit for astronauts to study. The plan is part of an initiative by President Barack Obama for a US manned asteroid mission as outlined in his 2014 NASA budget request. The agency’s main objective at the moment is to come up with alternative approaches and evaluate them.  Read More

The Orion parachute test on February 12, 2013 (Photo: NASA)

A test version of NASA’s Orion space capsule made a parachute drop near Yuma Arizona on Tuesday with only two of its three parachutes working. Dropped from a Hercules transport from an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 m), it wasn't an accident, but a deliberate nobbling of one of the chutes by NASA engineers to prove the capsule could safely return to Earth in the event of such a failure.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft with service module (Image: ESA-D. Ducros)

NASA has signed an agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the latter to supply service modules for NASA’s Orion manned spacecraft, due to launch in 2017. The modules will use technology from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) currently ferrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and will provide propulsion, power and life support to the Orion module.  Read More

Three 300-pound main parachutes gently lower a mockup Orion capsule to the ground during a...

With NASA's Orion spacecraft intended to carry crews to the moon, an asteroid and Mars, it will be taking human beings farther into space than ever before. Hopefully, it will also be bringing them back, with the distance of the return trips seeing the spacecraft picking up a lot of speed and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere faster than any previous spacecraft. In the latest in a series of tests that bring the spacecraft another step towards a planned first test flight in 2014, NASA has verified the capsule will safely make it back to terra firma even if one of its drogue parachutes fails to open.  Read More

A deep-space habitat derived from the International Space Station (Image: NASA)

After forty years of venturing no farther than low Earth orbit, NASA may have decided to establish a manned outpost at a greater distance than humanity has ever traveled before. According to documents seen by the Orlando Sentinel, NASA has chosen a proposal to build a space station beyond the Moon that will act as a “gateway spacecraft” to explore the Moon, the asteroids and eventually as a staging post to launch a manned mission to Mars.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's Space Operations Simulation Center includes an 18,000 square-foot high b...

The first Orion crew module has begun testing at Lockheed Martin's Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC) in Denver, Colorado. This 41,000 square foot research facility will test the ability of NASA's next-gen multipurpose exploration spacecraft to safely fly astronauts through the severe environments of deep space. Orion will be phased in as the sun sets on the Space Shuttle Program with the first orbital flight test planned for 2013 and first crewed mission by 2016.  Read More

Boeing will produce the Ares I crew launch vehicle's instrument unit avionics

December 22, 2007 The U.S. Vision for Space Exploration is an important step closer to being realized, with NASA awarding the Boeing Company a $265 million contract to produce the instrument unit avionics for the Ares I launch vehicle - a platform that will eventually be used for manned expeditions to the Moon and Mars.  Read More

NASA and Boeing executives pose for a photo in front of a model of an Ares I rocket. Photo...

August 29, 2007 Boeing has been awarded a lucrative contract worth more than $500 million to create part of a new NASA crew launch vehicle for Ares I, the rocket set to succeed the space shuttle as NASA’s primary vehicle for human exploration in the next decade. Boeing Space Exploration will manufacture a key element which will provide navigation, guidance, control and propulsion required for the ascent of the second-stage Ares I rocket into low-Earth orbit.  Read More

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