Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oh boy!

In the about damn time department. The Orion spacecraft is due for it's maiden launch in two days.
Here's what's going to happen. It's a two orbit shakedown to test the rocket's systems. In addition to checking out the radiation shielding and the two stage rockets, Orion is heading to an altitude of 5,800 kilometers. That's higher than humans have been in quite a while. Here's a list of the itinerary.
When Orion launches, it will look like it's on fire. That's because it is. The rocket is propelled by liquid hydrogen and right before liftoff, some hydrogen escapes near the engine bells. So when the count reaches zero and the engine fires, it really does. The surrounding air catches fire and scorch marks can be seen on the tanks. I think they did it that way to look cool.
Here's what the launch will look like.
This is all in preparation for the next big mission. NASA put dates on going to Mars and some asteroids. 
This is a short film called Wanderers by Erik Wernquist. I'm told Carl Sagan is narrating the feature. On the link I just provided there is another to Erik's page. There's a neat gallery and Erik provides some commentary. My only criticism is it's not captioned, but that's okay. I've been dreaming about exploring the stars since I was a kid, and it looks like we are finally getting around to it. Perhaps I won't make it to the moon, but my children or grandchildren will grow up knowing about the next wave of human colonization. As long as we humans are doing this now, within my lifetime, I can be at peace with it.

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