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Orion Spacecraft

A mock Orion spacecraft falls to Earth under three fully deployed main parachutes (Photo: ...

NASA has upped the ante in its most recent test of the Orion spacecraft's parachute deployment system ahead of its maiden test flight (EFT-1) scheduled for launch later this year. Today's operation saw a test version of the Orion crew module falling through the skies above Arizona on the 14th of 17 planned drops designed to test a soft landing system which may one day protect astronauts returning from missions to Mars.  Read More

Artist's impression of Orion's service module fairing separation in low-Earth orbit (image...

With the launch date of the Orion next-generation spacecraft approaching fast, NASA scientists have set out what they hope to learn from its maiden launch. The test flight, dubbed EFT-1 is the first of three proving missions set to trial many of the in-flight systems essential to the success of any manned mission to Mars, or beyond.  Read More

The heat shield, attached to the underside of the Orion spacecraft (Photo: NASA)

NASA scientists have installed the largest heat shield ever created for the intention of atmospheric re-entry, onto the crew module of its next generation spacecraft, Orion. The shield, made of the same base material as that which protected Apollo-era astronauts from re-entry conditions over four decades ago, is set to be tested to the extreme later this year as Orion's maiden flight blasts off.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft attached to the ESA manufactured service modul...

NASA has successfully completed the latest series of tests for its next-generation Orion Spacecraft, currently housed at the Kennedy Space Center. The latest trials focused on vibration-testing the spacecraft, simulating the stress that Orion will be subjected to during its maiden test flight scheduled to take place in December.  Read More

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

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