NASA's Orion spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket, lifts off on its first unmanned orbital test flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 5, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
NASA's Orion spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket, lifts off on its first unmanned orbital test flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 5, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.Chris O'Meara—AP
NASA's Orion spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket, lifts off on its first unmanned orbital test flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 5, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Orion Exploration Flight Test
Team members work to secure a test version of Orion in the Pacific Ocean during a test recovery mission.
An artist's illustration of the 38-story launch system with Orion on top.
A model of Orion floats above an underwater mockup of the International Space Station in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston on April 25, 2013.
J-2X -- Back in the Saddle Again (NASA, J-2X, SLS, 11/27/12)A J-2X power pack assembly burns brightly during a hot fire test Nov. 27 at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Engineers pulled the assembly from the test stand in September to install additional instrumentation in the fuel turbopump. The test, which ran for 278 seconds, verified the newly installed strain gauges designed to measure the turbine structural strain when the turbopump is spinning at high speeds that vary between 25,000 and 30,000 rotations-per-minute. The J-2X engine -- built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif. -- will power the upper stage of NASA's Space Launch System, managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The new heavy-lift rocket system will launch the Orion spacecraft and enable humans to explore new destinations beyond low Earth orbit. Image credit: NASA/SSC
The NASA team at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has completed the final weld on the first space-bound Orion capsule, on June 22, 2012. The crew compartment is within this structure, which is then enclosed in the conical exterior.
Orion's launch system undergoes a hot-fire test.
The Orion capsule sits within the Vehicle Assembly Building on May 24, 2012 in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
An artist's illustration of Orion's Flight Test
The 16.5 foot diameter, titanium structure-supported heat shield was fabricated by Lockheed Martin in Denver for Orion. Textron Defense Systems, outside Boston, covered the shield’s outer surface with Avcoat™, an ablative material system used on the Apollo spacecraft. The shield will have to withstand temperatures of 4,000 degrees F (2,200 C).
A test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes was dropped high above the the Arizona desert on Feb. 29, 2012. This particular drop test—the latest of a series—studied the stability of the wake left by the Orion as it descended.
Ground teams in White Sands, New Mexico, practice stacking test versions of Orion and its launch abort rockets, on Sept. 24, 2009.
NASA's Orion spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket, lifts off on its first unmanned orbital tes
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Chris O'Meara—AP
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A History of the Orion Spacecraft in Pictures

Dec 04, 2014
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