Dec. 4 Orion space capsule flight test: What NASA wants to know

November 28, 2014 5:14 PM

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1. As Orion heads into Earth orbit, it will jettison its launch abort system. That system, shaped like a Hershey's kiss with a tower on top, sits above the capsule to blast astronauts off the booster rocket if something goes wrong on the launch pad. There are no astronauts on board, but the test will confirm the abort system will leave Orion in space as designed.

2. in the second of the test flight's two orbits, Orion will climb to 3,600 miles above the Earth. This is the crucial orbit pushing the capsule through the Van Allen belts and their dangerous radiation. Unblocked radiation would fry Orion's guidance system, computers and other electronics. The flig...

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