Inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, preparations are underway to remove the window covers on Orion before the fourth and final Ogive panel is installed around the spacecraft and Launch Abort System. The Ogive panels will smooth the airflow over the conical spacecraft to limit sound and vibration, which will make for a much smoother ride for the astronauts who will ride inside Orion in the future. The work marked the final major assembly steps for the spacecraft before it is transported to Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in November.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted flight test of Orion is scheduled to launch in December 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, and in 2018 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: Ben Smegelsky