Journey to the Moon and Beyond

orionIn March, the launch abort system – also known as the LAS pathfinder – for NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle began a week-long journey across US to be delivered to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where it will help NASA prepare for the first abort system test, known as Pad Abort 1. The LAS pathfinder represents the size, outer shape and specific mass characteristics of Orion’s abort system. This has created waves about Orion.

Orion, as you know, will become Nasa’s primary vehicle for human space exploration after the shuttle retires in 2010. It will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and eventually to the moon and beyond. The vehicle is scheduled to begin carrying humans to the International Space Station in 2015. For its return to Earth, Orion will be equipped with a system of parachutes and shock absorbers.

Orion is making a big splash. A mock-up of the spacecraft that will carry the next generation of astronauts to the moon and beyond is traveling down the East Coast and undergoing tests to help NASA understand its performance in water.

‘One feature is its high mobility,’ writes Nasa on its website. ‘Each set of wheels can pivot individually in any direction, giving the vehicle the ability to drive sideways, forward, backward and any direction in between’ – a bit like a supermarket trolley.

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