NASA's new Orion spacecraft by Lockheed Martin aims beyond just shuttling people to the International Space Station (ISS), but can return man to the moon, navigate to Mars and mine approaching asteroids.
Artist's rendering of Lockheed Martin's Orion spacecraft (right) approaching its thrust module in low-earth orbit. (Source: Lockheed)
The Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC) for Lockheed Martin's shuttle successor was unveiled in Denver recently, along with the Orion spacecraft that can reach the International Space Station (ISS) and other destinations in the solar system.
Using NASA funding, Lockheed Martin's Orion spacecraft is designed to lift astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond into deep space for a return to the moon, a trip to Mars or even a round-trip to an approaching asteroid, possibly to deflect it before impacting Earth. NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for The Orion Project is on schedule for its first orbital flight test in 2013, and operational status could come as early as 2016.
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