At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA’s new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long road towards sending Humans to Mars in the 2030s.
Orion will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on its inaugural test flight to space on the uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission at 7:05 a.m. EST on December 4, 2014 from Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Technicians and engineers installed Orion’s batteries and have been conducting a thorough checkout of all the electrical and battery connections between the crew module, service module and Delta IV Heavy second stage while working inside the mobile service tower at pad 37.
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There is some margin time available in the schedule in case additional testing and checkouts are required.
Orion’s launch window opens at 7:05 a.m. EST on Dec. 4 at the beginning of a launch window that extends 2 hours, 39 minutes.
One week ago, top NASA and Lockheed Martin managers gave the “GO” to continue with launch preparations after the vehicle passed the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) on Thursday, Nov. 20.
This past week the doors of the Mobile Servicing Tower (MST) at pad 37 were opened to reveal the Orion spacecraft stack atop the Delta IV Heavy that will carry the spacecraft into orbit.
The Delta IV Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket.
The MST will be rolled back from the rocket stack on Wednesday evening, Dec. 3 starting 8 hours, 15 minutes before launch to allow the rocket to be fueled and continue into the final stage of launch operations and the countdown to liftoff on Thursday morning Dec. 4.
I’ll be at the pad during MST rollback reporting live for Universe Today.
The two-orbit, four and a half hour Orion EFT-1 flight around Earth will lift the Orion spacecraft and its attached second stage to an orbital altitude of 3,600 miles, about 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) – and farther than any human spacecraft has journeyed in 40 years.
Orion is NASA’s next generation human rated vehicle that will carry America’s astronauts beyond Earth on voyages venturing farther into deep space than ever before – beyond the Moon to Asteroids, Mars and other destinations in our Solar System.
Watch for Ken’s ongoing Orion coverage and he’ll be onsite at KSC in the days leading up to the historic launch on Dec. 4.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Orion and Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Learn more about Orion, SpaceX, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Dec 1-5: “Orion EFT-1, SpaceX CRS-5, Antares Orb-3 launch, Curiosity Explores Mars,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings