Orion: Hard to Get All Tingly Over NASA's New Capsule

December 3, 2014 9:15 PM

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NASA is preparing to launch its new Orion capsule on Thursday, December 4. It will be the first test launch of the spacecraft, which is being billed as kind of a big deal because it represents the agency's first major step toward regaining an inhouse manned spaceflight capability -- something it has not had since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Since then, the agency has had to rely on the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos and its Soyuz rockets and capsules to transport U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). A little embarrassing, and lately... a little unsettling, given the poor state of U.S.-Russian relations.

Pardon me while I yawn, though, because while the first launch of Orion (a program which has already been around for a decade) is an important step, NASA is nowhere close to having its own manned space system. Orion will go through a series of tests to qualify it as a safe, human-rated capsule. But ...

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