First Look at the Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars

Illustration for article titled First Look at the Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars

Yesterday NASA gave the world a first look at the Orion, a space vessel that will take humans back to the Moon in 2020, and then onward to Mars in the 2030s.

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If this saucer shape looks familiar, that's not because this vehicle is based on something hidden in Area 51. Orion is based on the design of the Apollo spaceships that took humans to the Moon back in the 1960s. But Orion can carry 6 astronauts, twice as many as Apollo could.

The Orion, along with the Ares rocket, will replace the Space Shuttle when it goes out of commission next year. According to Reuters:

NASA plans to first take several trips to the moon, a journey of just three days. Each visit will last six months while astronauts set up a campsite and practice the things they want to do on Mars. "That's really the goal — to put humans on Mars, and going to the moon is our testing ground in order to do it," [NASA's Don] Pearson explained.

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Illustration for article titled First Look at the Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars

A lot of work has to be done before the Mars mission, however. That mission would take 3 years round trip, and will probably require a much more robust version of the Orion.

NASA brought a test version of the Orion out to the National Mall in Washington, DC, yesterday, after it had undergone a series of tests in the water - researchers are testing to see how it holds up after a water landing.

Illustration for article titled First Look at the Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars
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Images via TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images.

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DISCUSSION

cljohnston108
cljohnston108

Meh, not impressed by this return to capsules.

I've always found it odd that each branch of the military has a multitude of (replaceable) vehicles for different types of missions, yet NASA has to pick one type (in limited quantity) for a particular mission (Low Earth Orbit or Moon/Mars) and reuse them until they wear out (dangerously).

NASA gets only about 1% of the budget the DoD gets: and none of its employees are trained to kill people!

Somewhat more constructive an endeavor, if you ask me.

We could've built new Shuttles to replace the old ones and built a new moonship... I'd have been fine with a capsule in that case.

We'd almost gotten all the kinks worked out of launching Shuttle - most launch/landing scrubs are weather-related these days.

My Dad, a set designer, used to say this about big projects: "Right about the time you get finished, you'll have figured out how to get started."