NASA Powers Up Orion, Installs Hardware on its Way Toward Mars
November 8, 2013 | WMFE - Technicians working on NASA's new spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center will soon have the Orion's propulsion system installed. It's the next step in readying the Orion for a flight test, after the spacecraft was powered on last month.
[Photo: Orion. Credit: NASA]
NASA says powering up Orion for a series of tests late last month was a major milestone.
Stu McClung is part of the Orion production team. He says it was a bit like starting a car.
"If you think when you turn your car on, and you flip it to just, not to turn the engine over and start running but to run your radio? That first step where all the dashboard lights up? It's almost a step like that. It's like, alright go first step, good, I got good battery power."
Engineers are now finishing the installation of propulsion tubing before they move on to the other hardware the spacecraft will need for an unmanned test flight next fall.
Orion will circle the Earth twice before returning at a speed of 20,000 miles an hour, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans.
Orion is designed to carry astronauts to asteroids and Mars, but McClung says the design remains flexible should its mission change.