Monday, March 17, 2014

Orion test flight delayed

The first test flight of NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle has been delayed to early December to accommodate a U.S. military payload in United Launch Alliance's Delta 4 launch manifest. The unmanned Orion test flight was scheduled for launch in September or October aboard a Delta 4-Heavy rocket. Orion is designed to carry astronauts on expeditions beyond low Earth orbit aboard the Space Launch System, a government-owned heavy-lift launcher set to debut by the end of 2017. The Orion test flight, known as Exploration Flight Test-1, will prove many of the spacecraft's key systems, including the capsule's 16.4-foot-diameter ablative heat shield. The first crewed Orion mission is scheduled for launch on the second Space Launch System flight in 2021. (Source: Spaceflight Now, 03/15/14) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests engines for the SLS; Orion and the core stage of SLS are built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans