Orion in space

Nichelle Nichols is partnering with NASA in its efforts to move forward with Earth’s exploration of outer space.  From inspiring countless future astronauts and scientists with her character Uhura in the original Star Trek to being part of the promotional efforts for the space shuttle program in the 1970s including NASA’s own Enterprise, Nichols is now continuing her inspirational role for the next generation of space travelers.

In a promotional video released this weekend by NASA via YouTube, Nichols is sure to generate interest in the new space capsule, called Orion, which is being engineered to take humans farther into space than ever before–eventually to Mars.  This is similar to the role played by Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton with the Curiosity program that we reported on here at borg.com back in August 2012.

Scale photo San Diego recovery Orion module

Significantly smaller and with far less room to move around in than the space shuttles, Orion has the look of a giant version of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules that are now displayed in the National Aeronautics and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  Sitting atop a Delta IV rocket system like those old Redstone and Jupiter launch systems but bigger and more advanced, Orion is being tested to prepare it to take astronauts “farther into the solar system than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars”.  Check out a great article about a test near San Diego a few weeks ago here.  After the break, watch Nichols’ new video about the Orion:

With the retirement of the last space shuttle, it seemed like exploration to new worlds was no longer going to be in the cards in our lifetime for Americans, who once believed fervently the winner of the space race was well settled.  But the rumors of the demise of America’s space exploration at the end of the space shuttle era may have been premature.

The test launch for Orion is scheduled for December 4, 2014.  According to NASA, “Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.  Orion’s first flight test, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch December 4 on a two-orbit, four-hour flight that will test many of the systems most critical to safety. Orion will launch atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37.  This test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield. In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.  More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars.  Exploration Mission-1 will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.”

More information can be found at the NASA website Orion page here.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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