Orion: Prepare for a Trial by Fire

Launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Credit: NASA

Launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Orion will be carried to orbit by a similar Dleta IV Heavy. Credit: NASA

A new spacecraft is sitting on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, just waiting for its rockets to fire.

NASA is developing the Orion spacecraft to carry human explorers into orbit and beyond, and the craft is now preparing for an early test.

The launch window for Orion opens at 7:05 am Eastern Time and will remain open for just 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Orion being prepared for launch. Credit: NASA

Orion being prepared for launch. Credit: NASA

Orion will not carry human beings this time around, but it will travel farther than any spacecraft designed for human passengers since Apollo. If all goes according to plan, the craft will reach a distance of around 3,600 miles above the Earth.

This launch is designed to test critical equipment on the spacecraft. Before humans board the craft, NASA has to make sure the new launch vehicle is ready for such precious cargo.

In preparation for the launch, check out this video from NASA for some background on the Orion mission:

Orion: Trial by Fire. Published on Oct 8, 2014. Credit: ReelNASA (YouTube)