Posted by tourdemars to Crew Exploration Vehicle at June 26, 2014 12:29 PMThe U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance. Orion, the agency's newest manned spaceship, is being prepared for its first mission in December. In future missions, it will journey into deep space -- to Mars and beyond -- farther than humans have ever gone before. Orion comes loaded with superlatives. It boasts the largest heat shield ever built and a computer 400 times faster than the ones on the space shuttles. It will be launched into space on the most powerful rocket NASA has ever made. No astronauts will be aboard the December flight, which will test the spacecraft's systems for future manned missions.
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