NASA's New Orion Spacecraft and Space Launch System

Since the end of the Space Shuttle program, NASA technicians have been developing a new Space Launch System (SLS), along with a new manned spacecraft named Orion, designed to once again lift astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, and return them safely home. Years of development and testing are leading up to the first planned (unmanned) launch of Orion in December, sending it 3,600 miles into space atop a Delta 4 Heavy booster. The complete system is scheduled for a an unmanned lunar-orbit test in 2017. Long-term, Orion and the SLS will serve as both transport and a home to astronauts during future long-duration missions to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations throughout our solar system.

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