Houston Matters

With Orion Launch Scrubbed, A Closer Look at Its Mission

Space City watched closely this morning as, following several delays due in part to high winds and a sticky rocket valve, NASA scrubbed today’s launch of the Orion capsule aboard an unmanned Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA hopes to launch Orion tomorrow. Once launched, Orion will orbit the Earth from a height of 3,600 miles, then drop back into the atmosphere […]

Image Courtesy: Smiley N. Pool/Houston Chronicle

Space City watched closely this morning as, following several delays due in part to high winds and a sticky rocket valve, NASA scrubbed today’s launch of the Orion capsule aboard an unmanned Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA hopes to launch Orion tomorrow. Once launched, Orion will orbit the Earth from a height of 3,600 miles, then drop back into the atmosphere and land in the Pacific ocean hundreds of miles off the California coast.

Orion represents NASA’s latest effort in the development of deep space travel. The unmanned flight is designed to test, among other things, how well the spacecraft handles radiation surrounding the Earth in what’s known as the Van Allen Belt. No manned mission has crossed that belt since the Apollo missions to the moon. Radiation is one of many challenges astronauts would face in a mission to Mars, towards asteroids, or other deep space destinations.

We hear from the Houston Chronicle’s Sci Guy Eric Berger about Orion, NASA’s efforts to move towards deep space travel, and what it all may mean for Houston, and Johnson Space Center, in particular.

MORE: History’s Manned Spacecraft Shown to Scale:

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