If all goes according to plan, on Thursday, 4 December, NASA will take the next step towards the goal of sending astronauts into deep space with the test flight of the new Orion spacecraft. Launch of Orion from Cape Canaveral is set for 7:05 a.m. EST (8:05PM Thursday, here in Beijing).
According to the NASA website, the 4.5 hour mission will send the uncrewed version of the capsule 5,800 kilometers above the Earth so that it can be bombarded by the high radiation zones that circle our planet and measure the effects on the inside of the spacecraft. Unlike early test missions during the Space Race (1955-1972) between USSR and the USA, no animal test subjects will be on board. After two passes around the Earth, Orion will dive into the atmosphere at over 32,000kph before slowing for splashdown.
The Orion launch provides a great opportunity for parents and teachers to get kids excited about space exploration and the science behind it. To learn more about the Orion mission or to catch the launch visit www.nasa.gov or check out any of the links below to read the blog or live stream audio and video.
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