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Orion Spacecraft

When the first Orion astronauts stare back at Earth, they'll be looking through windows made mostly of plastic. Because Orion is designed to carry out manned deep-space missions and even a possible Mars voyage, NASA decided it was time to replace the conventional glass windows with panes of acrylic that are lighter, less expensive, and more structurally sound than previous designs, and is more suited to long-duration missions.

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NASA is planning to maximize the scientific potential of the maiden launch of its next generation launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, by selecting 11 tiny satellites to ride shotgun. The little probes, known as CubeSats, will be transported in the SLS's upper stage adaptor, presenting a cost-effective delivery option for experiments designed to function beyond low-Earth orbit. Read More
NASA has released new details on how it plans to boldly go to an asteroid and come back with a bit of it. The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is part of the space agency's Asteroid Initiative announced in 2013, which envisions the capture and return of an asteroid to lunar orbit for study by astronauts as a rehearsal for a later mission to Mars. Read More
NASA has successfully completed the first of two tests designed to certify the massive solid fuel boosters which will form a part of NASA's next generation Space Launch System (SLS). Once completed, SLS will represent the most powerful launch vehicle ever constructed and will be responsible for, among other tasks, launching NASA's Orion spacecraft on humanity's first manned mission to Mars. Read More
The Orion spacecraft may have had its maiden flight, but it's still waiting for the Space Launch System (SLS) booster that will send it beyond the Moon. That wait got a bit shorter on Friday as NASA test fired the RS-25 engine that will power the SLS. The first of eight hot tests, it took place at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Read More
It's been a busy year in space. In a mixture of triumph and tragedy, space exploration reached new horizons, tested new technologies, and pushed the limits of the possible in 2014. So as the old year draws to close, Gizmag looks back on the space highlights of the past twelve months. Read More
Proving that not all the space spectaculars are on the big screen at Christmas, NASA has released video taken from inside the Orion spacecraft during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere earlier this month. The ten-minute video shows the final minutes before its December 10 splashdown as it made a fiery descent ahead of a parachute landing in the Pacific ocean. Read More
The Orion spacecraft may have taken less than five hours to fly into space and back, but it will take a fortnight for it to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, so Lockheed Martin, builder of the capsule, is conducting tests on the fly. As the 19,650 lb (8,913 kg) capsule designed to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit was unloaded ashore in San Diego, California from the recovery ship USS Anchorage, Lockheed engineers were waiting to take samples of the heat shield and begin processing the flight recorders. Read More
Another chapter in the history of spaceflight was written today at 8:29am PST, as the EFT-1 mission ended with the splashdown of the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Though designed to carry astronauts into deep space, the Orion was unmanned for the flight, which was planned to certify the spacecraft and test critical flight systems. Read More
NASA reentered the field of manned spaceflight as it launched the first Orion crew capsule into space today at 7:05 am EST from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster on a four and a half hour flight. The capsule, which was not carrying a crew, will carry out a two-orbit flight around the Earth, which will take it to an altitude of 3,600 mi (5,800 km) before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California later this morning. Read More
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