How NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Paved A New Path For Space Travel

Space travel has been advancing over the years. After Russia made its first trip to the moon, the USA has been trying all it can to do the same. After succeeding on that plan, there have been more voyages to the moon and back with various astronauts. There was a program by NASA to take humans to the International Space Station on the moon, which inspired the creation of Orion. Previously, NASA’s astronauts went to space using Russian space crafts. It is one of the main reasons Orion was created. Here are a couple of things about Orion that make it a pacesetter in space travel.

How the Orion Is Created

Named after the star constellation, Orion is an upgrade from the Apollo. It comprises three main components:

  • The launch abort system at the top
  • The crew module in the center 
  • The service module at the bottom

All these components have been made using the lightest material possible to reduce the spacecraft’s mass and ensure it can withstand the mass of the astronauts on board. The launch abort system (LAS) is made with material from rockets and will be used to launch the ship into orbit. Once the ship reaches orbit, it will detach itself. In case of an emergency during launch, the LAS will act as a lifeboat for the crew and take them to safety.

The crew module has enough space for four crew members. Its main task is to ensure the crew stays safe while in space. The service module’s role is to propel the spacecraft once it detaches from the SLS rocket. It has solar array wings that will generate electricity to power the module while in space. It is expected to generate electricity that can power up to two three-bedroom households. It will also contain oxygen and food for the crew on board.

The Test Flight

The first test flight was done in 2014, and it was a success. The space capsule flew for 4.5 hours at an altitude of 3600miles above the earth’s surface before reentering the earth. The parachutes and heat shield of the capsule worked well. The test flight did not include any crew on board and was monitored by some of the astronauts in the Apollo to help NASA determine the ship’s performance.

After the initial test launch, it was expected that the first launch with astronauts on board would happen in 2017, but there were delays. The launch was pushed to the early years of 2020 and is expected to be launched in 2021.

Reasons for Delays

The main reason there were delays was that the Obama presidency scraped down the budget. NASA was advised to focus on other things first. Other issues that caused the delay were weather issues and overoptimistic development designs. Even with these delays, the testing of the space capsule is still going on in preparation for the next launch.

What Orion Means for Space Travel

The biggest achievement Orion has is the ability to take humans farther than they have ever gone before. The other space crafts might go to the moon, but Orion is set to take humans further than Mars. It will help humans explore outer space better than we have ever done in the past. Space travel will never be the same after Orion is launched.

NASA hopes that Orion will be their Lunar Orbit Platform. It is for this reason that there is still advancement being made to the Orion. When it finally launches again, the plan is to increase space exploration beyond where it is at the moment.