Orion test flight will determine future NASA endeavors

Insight

The United States is about to break new ground, in hopes of bringing humans further into space than ever before.

NASA Plans Mars mission test flight

The United States' planned mission to Mars is ready to take a significant step forward. NASA is set to conduct a test flight for a capsule called Orion. If all goes according to plan, it will one day take humans to Mars. CCTV's John Zarrella is at the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida.

This first test flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft is about ten years in the making, and is arguably the most significant event since the final Space Shuttle flight.

The unmanned craft will reach a height of 5,800 kilometers above the Earth during the flight, which is higher than any vehicle built to carry humans has flown since the Apollo moon missions. More than 1,000 sensors on board will monitor every aspect of the flight, including radiation exposure, instrumentation and the abort system.

Orion will then go back into the atmosphere at 30,000 plus kilometers per hour. Its heat shield, the largest ever built, will take the brunt of temperatures reaching some 2,200 degrees Celsius.

Humans will not be able to fly on Orion until the early 2020’s, probably around the moon first and then later to an asteroid. Those missions take less than three weeks–the big prize is a mission to Mars, which would take about one year. A mission to Mars is estimated to cost as much as $500 billion, which is why there is a general consensus that a Mars mission would have to be an international undertaking.

(Years 2014-2019 based on budget estimates) Source: White House Office of Management and Budget historical tables.

CCTV America’s John Zarrella reports from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Orion test flight will determine future NASA endeavors

The United States is about to break new ground, in hopes of bringing humans further into space than ever before. CCTV America's John Zarrella reports.

Leroy Chiao, former commander of the International Space Station, joined CCTV America for insight on what to expect from Thursday’s launch.
Follow Leroy Chiao on Twitter @astrodude

Former International Space Station commander Leroy Chiao on Orion test flight

Leroy Chiao, former commander of the International Space Station, joined CCTV America for insight on what to expect from Thursday's launch.