US space agency NASA is set to launch a test mission for its latest space capsule that is developed to eventually take humans into deeper space than ever before.
NASA will be sending its first Orion space capsule on December 4 but the scientists said that the bold test flight carries several risks with it.
This would be for the first time when the space agency is sending a capsule thousands of miles above the Earth. The NASA scientists said that they are also expecting to retrieve the capsule again when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.
During the test flight, the space capsule will be unmanned. However, this doesn’t mean that people won’t be thoroughly involved with some of the toughest and riskiest parts of the mission.
Addressing a press conference, Jeremy Graeber, recovery director for the test flight, said, “The environment in the open ocean is a hazardous environment in and of itself. Nominally, the vehicle coming down should not pose any threats to the recovery forces, but it’s a test flight, so there are systems that we are not 100 percent sure we know what position they’re in once we’re splashed down. We have high confidence that they’ll be in great shape, but we’ve prepared ourselves in case there are some issues.”
Graeber said the ammonia, propellant and many radiating elements of the spacecraft that are used for telemetry could pose a big threat once it returns to the Earth.
The December 4 test will be known as Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion. It is built for NASA by Lockheed Martin and will be launched to space atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket.
The unmanned Orion capsule will be making two orbits of the Earth. It will be flying about 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) above the planet, which is close to 15 times higher than the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS).