- to infinity, and beyond July 30
Vanderbilt toured a "low-fidelity mockup" of Orion at Lockheed Martin's Exploration Development Laboratory in Houston, and he describes the spaceship as resembling a Star Wars Stormtrooper's helmet.
Despite massive NASA budget cuts recently, NASA gave the lab $6.1 billion in 2006 for Orion's construction. When the program was canceled, Lockheed Martin created a contract, which has been extended to 2020, to build capsules for three missions. Orion, Vanderbilt writes, is "NASA's most ambitious crewed vehicle ever" and will "carry the human space program for the next 30 years." NASA hopes Orion will be able to complete everything from lunar exploration to Mars missions.
Orion will eventually reach speeds of 20,000 mph, Vanderbilt reports, and will be able to leave low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station is located. According to NASA's website, Orion's first test flight will occur by the end of the year, with Orion atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket. Orion's first exploration mission, which will be the first to combine Orion with NASA's new Space Launch System, is scheduled for 2017.
Check out the Orion capsule in the image below. --Meghan DeMaria
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
Subscribe to the Week