NASA Moves First Orion Spacecraft to Launch Pad

NASA's Orion spacecraft passes into Space Launch Complex-37 SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to complete its move from the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Credit:  NASA/Kim Shiflett)
NASA’s Orion spacecraft passes into Space Launch Complex-37 SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to complete its move from the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

By Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Orion spacecraft moved Nov. 11 from the Launch Abort System Facility (LASF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in preparation for its upcoming flight test.

The assembled Orion crew module, service module, launch abort system and adapter that fits the service module to the rocket had remained inside the LASF since Sept. 28 until the scheduled move to the pad.

The journey began with first motion from the LASF at 8:54 p.m. EST. Traveling at about 5 mph, the spacecraft made the trek from Kennedy’s Industrial Area north to the Launch Complex 39 area, past the Vehicle Assembly Building, and continued to the launch pad at CCAFS. Orion arrived at the pad at 3:07 a.m. on Nov. 12.

The Orion spacecraft will be hoisted up for stacking on the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket later in the morning after its arrival at the launch pad.

Orion is scheduled to launch Dec. 4. The flight test will send Orion 3,600 miles in altitude from Earth on a two-orbit flight intended to ensure the spacecraft’s critical systems are ready for the challenges of deep-space missions.

During the 4.5-hour flight covering a distance of 66,000 miles, Orion will travel farther than any crewed spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years, before returning to Earth at speeds near 20,000 mph and generating temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

After Orion splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, NASA and the U.S. Navy will recover the crew module and attempt to retrieve the parachutes and forward bay cover.

For more information about Orion and its first flight, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion.