America’s new spaceship to be viewed at KSC Monday
Arrival of Orion follows first private launch to ISS
June 29, 2012
CAPE CANAVERAL - America’s new spaceship is going to be unveiled at Kennedy Space Center Monday morning. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who crafted the blue-print for NASA’s continued deep-space exploration, will be on hand.
The path forward will feature the new Orion spacecraft, which was trucked this week from New Orleans to Florida’s east coast, where it arrived yesterday, according to NASA. Orion is a four-person craft designed to go into space atop a new monster rocket that will be more powerful than any booster ever built.
“It will be capable of carrying astronauts deeper into space than they’ve ever been,” Nelson said today. “The plan is for NASA to lead us to Mars.”
On Monday, the spacecraft will be unveiled for the media at a news conference at 10 a.m. at KSC’s Operations and Checkout facility. Guests will include Nelson and NASA officials.
Last year, NASA reached a milestone when it decided on the next transportation system that will carry humans into deep space.
The bipartisan blueprint for the agency was crafted largely by Nelson and fellow U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. The plan extended the life of the International Space Station from 2015 to 2020 and directed NASA to bolster commercial spaceflight and lead development of the heavy-lift rocket and Orion for deep-space exploration.
Orion was initially in development under a plan by the Bush administration to carry humans back to the moon. But the plan was canceled. For taxpayers, the decision to incorporate the craft into a new exploration plan meant a huge savings, because of the money already invested in building a spacecraft that can take four astronauts to deep space.
NASA has said it will finish processing and outfitting Orion at KSC and fly it in a first test flight in 2014. NASA eventually hopes to send the rocket and astronauts to Mars — at first just to circle, but then later landing on the Red Planet.
On the commercial side, SpaceX last month launched the first private vehicle to link up with the International Space Station. The company will start regular cargo missions to the ISS later this year.