Nasa’s Orion, stacked on a Space Launch System rocket capable of lifting 70 metric tons will launch from a newly refurbished Kennedy Space Center in 2019 for the EM-1 mission.
The uncrewed Orion will travel into Distant Retrograde Orbit, breaking the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles).
The mission will last 22 days and was designed to test system readiness for future crewed operations.
Then, following the uncrewed space flight tests, the first crewed test flight will launch.
While NASA has been hard at work in recent months readying the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket for an unmanned flight next year, the space agency and its partners are already looking ahead. An artist’s impression is pictured
This could come as early as August 2021, according to NASA.
Though crew size will be determined closer to launch, the space agency plans to fly up to four astronauts.
Orion will carry the crew through two orbits around Earth to ensure everything is working properly.
Them, it will carry out different orbital to eventually be on a path toward the moon.
The crew will fly around the backside of the moon, creating a figure eight, before returning to Earth using the moon’s gravitational pull ‘like a slingshot to bring Orion home,’ NASA says.