Orion’s First Orbits
The Orion Spacecraft has successfully completed it’s first “live” test today, 05 December 2014.
At this time, Orion is the leading candidate to be the spacecraft that will (finally!) take a crew of humans to Mars sometime in the 2030’s.
The launch earlier this morning is shown to the left.
The Orion capsule was safely tucked sway atop the Delta IV rocket.
All indications are that this unmanned test flight was a rousing success regarding the information that has been collected from the instruments aboard.
The image below is from a “screen shot” that I took while watching the launch and subsequent flight in real time on NASA TV earlier this morning.
The actual path of the spacecraft in orbit is shown, along with an insert in the lower left-hand corner, which shows the “altitude” of the craft. I caught this image just 10 minutes before the craft reached the peak of it’s orbit, and began the long plunge back to Earth.
The Orion spacecraft attained an orbit much farther above the Earth than the International Space Station. At the peak of Orion’s elliptical orbit it was about 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface before beginning it’s long fall back to the targeted landing spot about 600 miles west of Baja California.
During the exciting days of NASA’s Apollo missions, many people, including myself, expected that we would have left footprints in the sands of Mars by now (2014), but alas, there are so many wars to be fought that we have reduced the priority of space exploration to a pale shadow of what was expected.
Be that as it may, we have now taken the first tangible steps toward Mars which may someday be called “home” by the explorers of the only other likely place for humans to live in this solar system.
Additional details can be found at the NASA website.
While you are visiting the NASA website, I suggest you check out some of the other exciting happenings by exploring the other missions NASA is currently managing.