After the interesting discussion of the planet Mercury yesterday, I was going to do Venus tonight, but something came up: Orion, on top of a Delta IV Heavy launches tomorrow morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida!
http://www.americaspace.com/?p=72596 Photo credit: Alan Walters AmericanSpace
Let’s hope it’s as successful as this June 2012 launch of a Delta IV Heavy – there are no guarantees with rocket launches… face it; space is a risky business.
It’s a Delta IV Heavy, the highest capacity rocket operating in the world today carrying the Orion payload. “The flight test begins at Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A 2-hour, 39-minute launch window opens at 7:05 a.m. EST so the launch and recovery of the spacecraft after splashdown can both take place in daylight. Orion will lift off on the strength of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy, currently the largest rocket in America’s inventory. The three RS-68 engines will produce about two million pounds of thrust at liftoff, enough to push the 1.63 million pounds of spacecraft, rocket and cryogenic fuel straight up off the launch pad and into orbit.” http://www.nasa.gov/content/orion-poised-for-first-trip-to-space/#.VH-1_WduowS
So what is “Orion?” Orion is the latest of NASA efforts to return us to manned spaceflight – to the moon, mars, and maybe even a manned landing on an asteroid. (And I mean “manned” as in “humanned” – could be females manning the rockets – they make great astronauts.)
“What would it take to carry people to the Moon, or Mars, or an asteroid? Currently no spaceship is capable of taking humans beyond Earth orbit, but NASA plans to change that with the Orion capsule. Just after 7am US Eastern time on Thursday, a rocket carrying a test version of the Orion spacecraft will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. This marks the first significant test of what NASA engineers hope will be the next generation of crewed spaceflight—and possibly the prototype of the ship carrying the first people to Mars.
The capsule in the Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) won’t carry any humans, but it will check a number of crucial systems that need testing before any people fly in the spacecraft, including the all-important reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. During the flight, it will soar higher than any Space Shuttle or Soyuz capsule, to check the radiation exposure astronauts would experience farther from Earth.” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/03/orion-capsule-the-first-step-towards-humans-on-mars.html
Well spoken by thedailybeast – check out their blog post – snappy writers those beasties! And note how they artfully dodged the phrase, “manned spaceflight” with the far more gutless, “crewed spaceflight”. Nice PC touch.
The crew module kind of reminds me of the Apollo capsule.
I don’t know if this is an “approved” version but it has an awesome soundtrack – Mars Bringer of War from The Planets by Gustav Holst.
Just watching these cartoon-like mock-up videos gives me a chill. Spaceflight is extremely risky, dangerous business. These astronauts are going to have to have
balls a great deal of courage.
So eventually NASA plans on ditching Delta IV Heavy for the new Space Launch System (SLS)
These amazing rockets, astounding hu-manned vehicles, plans for human exploration of distant worlds; the moon, mars and beyond leaves me, an older man, quite past his “best by” date, bemused and a bit philosophical. This mission for example, is unmanned (unhumanned if you please), but has a bit of dinosaur bone on board along with a cookie monster cookie, and some poetry. (Does anybody know which poetry?)
It’s amazing and I wonder if I will live long enough to see it all come to fruition… I also wonder when we will find out that people are having sex in outer space, a kind of über mile-high club; they are after all, humans. Maybe that has already happened. Maybe there is a secret society of astronauts that have “done it” in zero gravity. I hope so. And I hope I’ll find out for sure in the affirmative before my time comes.