NASA is planning the first test of the new Orion spacecraft for 2014. One of the preparations for the test flight is actually getting the Orion spacecraft to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Monday of this week, the first of the next-generation Orion spacecraft arrived at Kennedy. Orion is NASA's first manned spacecraft since it retired the shuttle fleet last year.
Orion is designed to ferry shuttle astronauts not only into low earth orbit, but to nearby asteroids and possibly even to Mars. NASA is using private companies, like SpaceX, that can ferry supplies and astronauts to the ISS. That frees up NASA's manpower to focus on the goal of getting a human to an asteroid by 2025. NASA also has a goal of getting a human to Mars by the 2030s.
NASA plans for Orion's first test flight will see the capsule fly 15 times higher than the ISS, to roughly 3600 miles above the Earth's surface in 2014. That flight test is being called Exploration Flight Test-1 and will use NASA's next-generation rocket booster dubbed Space Launch System rocket. The Orion capsule is the future of NASA's manned space program.
[via PC Mag]