|Orion at Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center last week. Courtesy NASA.|
A full-scale test version of NASA's Orion spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the museum by 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 1.
The 18,000-pound Orion test vehicle, built at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., was used in the successful test of Orion's launch abort system, Pad Abort 1 in May 2010. A pad abort would provide escape capability to protect the crews in the event of an emergency during launch or initial ascent.
Today, NASA is building the first space-bound Orion capsule, which will launch on Exploration Flight Test-1 or EFT-1, an uncrewed launch planned for 2014. This test will see Orion travel farther into space than any human spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years.
The VASC is the official visitor center for NASA Langley, offering more than 100 interactive exhibits that detail NASA's historic achievements, including the Apollo 12 Command Module and a moon rock retrieved during the Apollo 17 mission. The Orion capsule will be located in the Center's main gallery near the Apollo 12 Command Module and is the first piece of the VASC's planned exhibits to celebrate a summer of exploration.
"We are thrilled to be able to display the full-scale test version of NASA's Orion spacecraft this summer. As the visitor center for NASA Langley Research Center we are excited to share the NASA story with our members and visitors and showcase the latest in NASA technology," said Brian DeProfio, Interim Director of the Virginia Air & Space Center.
On May 26, VASC will open Destination Station, a hands-on exhibit that showcases and celebrates the achievements and innovative discoveries made aboard the International Space Station, an internationally-developed research facility located in Earth's lower orbit. On Aug. 20, a full-scale model of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will be on display at VASC, offering visitors an up-close look at NASA's current Mars mission.
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