"NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. 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.
On December 5, 2014, Orion launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex Flight Test on the Orion Flight Test: a two-orbit, four-hour flight that tested many of the systems most critical to safety.
The Orion Flight Test evaluated launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield."
It has been over 42 years since a spacecraft of this type has gone that far into space. 42 years! Growing up with Sci-Fi favorites like Star Wars and Star Trek, I always imagined that since we went to the moon when I was so young, we could make it to a "nearby" planet in no time... well, Not so fast there kid!
There are so many things to consider when going on a deep space mission that may take many months of travel time. Just think of all the planning you do for a week long camping trip.
I am very excited about the future mission to Mars and that it is really taking on shape and we are seeing things happen! I remember a trip I took to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a few years ago with my dad, we spent the day learning about some very incredible technology from the 1960's up to the present day. I was awestruck by the sheer size of the spacecrafts, rockets and launch pad. I found myself pondering the idea of being an astronaut on the first flights when the astronaut's safety was sort of a consideration in comparison to today's safety systems. I am pretty impressed that we did make it to the moon in the 60's! As a science teacher, I love teaching about space and rockets and have a blast launching rockets in the rocketry classes! NASA has a great website and I would encourage anyone to visit it. I find it a bit addicting and need to set a timer for myself so I don't spend a whole day lost in space...