At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians monitor the progress as the Orion ground test vehicle, or GTA, is being lowered by crane toward a mockup of the service module in high bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The ground test vehicle is being used for path finding operations, including simulated manufacturing, assembly and stacking procedures.
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 Orion is scheduled to launch in 2014 atop a Delta IV rocket and in 2017 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: Dimitri Gerondidakis