If you saw the launch then you felt the chills and Goosebumps. The pride both nationally and for all of mankind; the pride that says ‘We did this!’ and we can do more – we can go to the moon and Mars and beyond.
I had the great pleasure of attending the multisite celebration of Orion launch and during that time I was speaking to a specialist/project manager and was amazed. It had never occurred to me the strict timeframe vs. strict budget that these projects be they a satellite or a spacecraft. The tests they all go through are incredible but any failures along the way could set the project back months, years even and hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it has to be perfect. As evidenced by the original launch date and subsequent scrub to a new launch date and time the next day. But in true NASA fashion – perfection was attained in the launch.
Now the hard part comes; the evaluation of the data. The launch speed, was it just right, too slow, too fast? The re-entry; the heat shield.
More powerful than any rocket – ever, Orion’s next launch is atop the SLS (Space Launch System) a new generation rocket for a new generation spacecraft. Because the trip to Deep Space will require a new level of power the SLS, a rocket that stands taller than the statue of liberty and is as powerful as 135 Boeing 747 jet engines (or 8.4 million pounds of thrust!)
What’s next for Orion? Today’s mission was known as EFT-1 or Exploration Flight Test -1 but data gained from this flight will help to prepare for the 2018 launch – another unscrewed test flight but this time utilizing the SLS. In 2021 – Orion will see her first crewed flight – possibly around the moon. It’s been a long time since mankind’s presence was felt in lunar orbit, Orion will make it reality. Of course designed for Deep Space journeys; while perhaps starting with an asteroid in lunar orbit, Orion will take on journeys to Mar’s and beyond.