Friday, January 13, 2012

Would-be astronauts sign up

Applications close at the end of the month for a new group of astronauts to fly NASA's Orion capsule to points still to be decided. So far more than 1,300 people have applied, comparable to the response NASA received from its calls for space shuttle crews, according to Aviation Week. The capsule, along with the heavy-lift Space Launch System, is envisioned as being able to support missions to a variety of destination. The first Orion flight on an SLS, tentatively set for 2017, probably will go around the Moon, and the first flight with a crew, in 2021, may follow suit. It's also possible that the capsule will dock with the International Space Station, as a backup crew-transport vehicle to the private spacecraft under development. (Source: Aviation Week, 01/13/12) Gulf Coast note: Orion and portions of the SLS are being built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans; the propulsion systems for SLS are being tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.