November 7, 2014 – The Lockheed Martin built Orion spacecraft is in the final stages of preparation for its first uncrewed flight test. On Monday, November 10 the spacecraft will roll out of the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its launch pad at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
NASA Television will air a news briefing live from the LASF at 2:30 p.m. MDT, prior to Orion’s move. To watch the briefing online, visit http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.
The spacecraft will start its journey to the launch pad at 6 p.m. MDT. The rollout will not be carried live on NASA TV, but highlights of the move will air on NASA TV’s Video File segments and the agency’s website starting Tuesday morning, November 11.
The spacecraft is expected to reach Space Launch Complex 37 at approximately 2 a.m. Tuesday, where it will be mated with a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in advance of its December 4 launch.
The uncrewed EFT-1 flight will take Orion to an altitude of approximately 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface, more than 15 times farther than the International Space Station’s orbital position. By flying Orion out to those distances, NASA will be able to see how Orion performs in and returns from deep space journeys.
After two orbits and 60,000 miles, Orion will return to Earth at a speed of approximately 20,000 mph before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, where it will be recovered.
EFT-1 will provide engineers with critical data about heat shield performance, separation events, avionics and software performance, attitude control and guidance, parachute deployment, and recovery operations to validate designs of the spacecraft before it begins carrying humans to new destinations in deep space.