An Orion mockup spacecraft atop its service module simulator is lifted in the transfer aisle of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Orion mockup is exact in details on the outside, but mostly empty on the inside. The work in the VAB is crucial to making sure the designs are accurate. Visible in the background on the left is the space shuttle Atlantis being readied for its move to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry crews to space beyond low Earth orbit. It will provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch in 2014 atop a Delta IV rocket and in 2017 on a Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion Photo credit: NASA/ Dmitri Gerondidakis