NASA brings Orion spacecraft to Washington DC mall

Washington (DC) – NASA announced yesterday that they would be bringing a full-scale mockup of their Orion spacecraft to the National Mall in Washington, DC on March 30. The 45 foot long vehicle will be attached to a semi trailer parked between 4th and 7th streets in front of the mall. A special press event will be held at 10am. Orion is the vehicle that will return a NASA crew to the moon in a planned 2020 mission.

The Orion crew module will be lifted into orbit atop the Ares I rocket (third from left), slated to enter service in 2015. Ares I is a light lift vehicle. The Ares V rocket (right) will lift a heavy module into orbit which the crew module will dock with before proceeding to the moon in 2020. The left-most vehicle is the original Saturn V rocket used to take astronauts to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

According to NASA, “The spacecraft mockup is on its way from water testing at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division in Bethesda to open water testing in the Atlantic off the coast of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal of the operation, dubbed the Post-landing Orion Recovery Test, or PORT, is to determine what kind of motions the astronaut crew can expect after landing, as well as conditions outside for the recovery team.

NASA engineers and personnel will be available all day at the National Mall event to answer questions about the Orion crew module and the Constellation program.

Orion is targeted to begin carrying humans to the International Space Station in 2015 and to the moon in 2020. Along with the Ares I and Ares V rockets and the Altair lunar lander, it is part of the Constellation Program that is developing the country’s next capability for human exploration of the moon and further destinations in the solar system.”

See NASA’s press release and their Orion website.