After being delayed for a day due to weather problems and a slight system failure, NASA’s Orion has blast into space today on its test flight to the admiration of many people who had gathered to witness its departure. The Orion spacecraft’s launch into orbit amidst a pillar of flame and smoke signals a new era of space exploration for both engineers and enthusiasts, and it brings a relief to all that had gone to so much trouble to witness the event.
At 7:05 a.m. this Friday morning, the Orion took off into space aboard a Delta IV rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and there wasn’t as much as a glitch with its launch as people flocked to watch. It was to have been launched yesterday Thursday, but the flight was cancelled at the last time when it became apparent that weather conditions would not permit, and then the fuel system developed a slight fault that needed to be rectified by engineers.
Since this was purely a test flight, it was unmanned and only had test equipment and Ernie’s rubber ducky from Sesame Street aboard. The Orion is expected to achieve two orbits with the second one rising as high as 3,600 miles altitude in order to allow it return back for re-entry into Earth’s surface with as high a velocity speed as possible. It will then land into the Pacific Ocean that is 600 miles west of Baja California before 11:30 a.m. from where it will be retrieved by a specialized team for return to base.
Costing about $375 million to construct, Orion is only running a space exploration test flight and might not be able to transport people into deep space until about 2021 when NASA’s budgets will have improved; but then the next test flight is expected to take off by 2018. It is also expected that soon enough, the Orion might be able to run errands with people aboard to Mars or the moon.