Inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians dressed in clean room suits attach a crane to the Orion crew and service module stack for Exploration Flight Test-1. Orion will be lifted out of the test cell and transferred to a mating device.
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 test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch later this year atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to an altitude of 3,600 miles above the Earth's surface. The two-orbit, four-hour flight test will help engineers evaluate the systems critical to crew safety including the heat shield, parachute system and launch abort system. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky