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EFT-1 Orion Comes Alive at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

The first flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft is a year away - and across the nation, the components are coming together. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

The first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft is a year away, and across the nation the components are coming together. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — The elements for the Orion spacecraft that will conduct the Exploration Flight Test 1 mission are coming together. As a photographer that shoots for AmericaSpace, I decided to visit NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center, located in Huntsville, Ala., and I was treated to a tour of the space agency’s facilities there and compiled the following photographic feature. 

I was shown the new tank welding machine. Although no welding took place the day of this tour, segments were lifted into the individual welding jigs. The components shown here will be part of the Orion spacecraft’s interstage.

It's clear that Orion will be flying very soon and that NASA's Space Launch System will be taking to the skies shortly after that. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

It’s clear that Orion will be flying very soon and that NASA’s Space Launch System will be taking to the skies shortly after that. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

NASA has tapped United Launch Alliance’s powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket to send Orion on its unmanned, maiden flight. If all goes according to plan, the rocket will send the Orion spacecraft some 3,600 miles away from the Earth. It will then return home—at 20,000 miles per hour—providing the ultimate test of Orion’s heat shield.

After this mission is completed, NASA will amp things up—a lot. The following mission will be the Exploration Mission 1, and this will take place atop NASA’s new heavy-lift booster, the Space Launch System, or “SLS.”

Workers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center test and retest each component to make sure that they meet standards. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

Workers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center test and retest each component to make sure they meet standards. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / AmericaSpace

 

6 comments to EFT-1 Orion Comes Alive at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Karol

    “It’s clear that Orion will be flying very soon . . .”. YES!! It will be a GREAT day for our American Space Program! I’ve set aside a top-shelf bottle of scotch for the celebration. To the Moon, Mars, and Beyond!!

  • Jim Hillhouse

    Great to see metal getting bent as preparations are made for EFT-1. Orion and SLS are going to put us back on the road we were once on before Congress decided to end our space race after Apollo 17. It will be interesting to hear what the naysayers of three years ago, who laughed at the Orion and SLS, will say after EFT-1.

  • Finally there is real progress in returning U.S. astronauts back into space. A new generation of explorers are about to continue the legacy of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programs. They will kindle the imagination of a generation of youth as well as reinforce the ideals of those of us fortunate enough to have experiencd first-hand the wonderment and awe of the moon landings. I, too, will break out the champagne and cheer!

  • Mary Kanian

    GREAT ARTICLE……GREAT PICS…..THANKS!!!

  • [...] EFT-1 Orion Comes Alive at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center [...]