A veteran cosmonaut, a German volcanologist and a Navy test pilot-turned-astronaut whose mastery of social media earned him — and NASA — a global following, bid their space station crewmates farewell and sealed the hatch of their Soyuz ferry craft, setting the stage for undocking and a fiery trip back to Earth to close out a 165-day stay aboard the International Space Station.
Facing pressure to find a ride into space for its commercial Cygnus cargo craft in the wake of a catastrophic rocket failure, Orbital Sciences Corp. says it has found openings in the mission manifests of the world’s busiest launch operators to accommodate resupply flights to the International Space Station next year.
The Orion spacecraft sits inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida awaiting its rollout to the launch pad Monday night. The spacecraft will be moved to Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for its flight test, flying aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket.
NASA flight director Mike Sarafin describes the timeline of Orion Exploration Flight Test 1, the crew capsule’s first space mission set for launch Dec. 4 on a United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket. The test flight will verify the craft’s heat shield, computers and avionics, and key separation events to be used on piloted missions to deep space.