KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The debut blastoff of NASA’s new Orion capsule is less than 24 hours away.
Today, Dec 3, the media including myself visited Orion and its Delta IV Heavy booster rocket for an up close look at its launch pad along the Florida space coast and set up our sound activated launch pad cameras. Enjoy my photo gallery herein.
The Orion capsule is designed to carry astronauts farther into space than ever before and open a new era in human spaceflight.
Tens of thousands of visitors have flocked to the space coast. Area hotels have been sold out for many weeks. Huge crowds are expected for perhaps the biggest crowd of spectators for any launch since the space shuttles were retired in July 2011.
Orion is slated to 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.
The weather forecast has improved from 60% to 70% chance of GO, with favorable conditions at expected at launch time at 7:05 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2014.
The launch window extends for 2 hours and 39 minutes.
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.
NASA TV will provide several hours of live Orion EFT-1 launch coverage with the new countdown clock – starting at 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 4.
Watch for Ken’s ongoing Orion coverage and he is 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