NASA Unveils Orion Pressure Vessel at KSC Launching on EM-1 Moon Mission in 2018

Orion crew module pressure vessel for NASA's Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) is unveiled for the first time on Feb. 3, 2016 after arrival at the agency's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. It is secured for processing in a test stand called the birdcage in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building at KSC. Launch to the Moon is slated in 2018 atop the SLS rocket.  Credit: Ken Kremer/

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – NASA officials proudly unveiled the pressure vessel for the agency’s new Orion capsule destined to launch on the EM-1 mission to the Moon in 2018, after the vehicle arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida last week aboard NASA’s unique Super Guppy aircraft.This ‘new and improved’ Orion was unloaded from the Super Guppy and moved to a test stand called the ‘birdcage’ in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building at KSC where it was showcased to the media including Universe Today.Orion’s arrival at KSC truly signifies a major turning point in achieving NASA’s agency-wide goal of sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s to carry out the ‘Journey to Mars’ initiative.The Orion pressure vessel serves as the structural backbone for the spacecraft.But before it can launch engineers and technicians from NASA and prime contractor Lockheed Martin will spend the next two years meticulously installing all the systems amounting to over 100,000 components and gear required for flight.This particular ‘Lunar Orion’ crew module is intended for blastoff to the Moon in 2018 on NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) atop the agency’s mammoth new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, simultaneously under development. The pressurized crew module serves as the living quarters for the astronauts comprising up to four crew members.EM-1 itself is a ‘proving ground’ mission that will fly an unmanned Orion thousands of miles beyond the Moon, further than any human capable vehicle, and back to Earth, over the course of a three-week mission.NASA is planning the first manned flight in about three years later in 2021, depend on the budget allocation.“We are targeting the first crewed flight for around 2021 on Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2),” Mark Geyer,, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, —> Read More