The heat shield for the Orion crew module has been secured in a special work stand inside the Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Technicians prepare to move the heat shield for a fit check with the crew module. More than 200 instrumentation sensors have been installed on the heat shield.
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 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/Daniel Casper