Friday, December 5, 2014

Orion is GO!

Today, a man-rated spacecraft went farther than humans have traveled since the Apollo era. Orion circled Earth two times, traveled to an apogee of 3,630 miles, and reentered Earth's atmosphere at 20,000 mph all in preparation for it's future use to take humans deeper in space than they have ever been before.

Before you ask, yes, I woke up early two days in a row to pull open my laptop and watch launch coverage. And yes, I "forced" my sleepy husband to witness this special space moment with me! [Back in college I "forced" Liz to let me watch NASA TV in the middle of the night to see the solar eclipse, so...shush] And today, after various launch delays yesterday, Orion set sail on her maiden voyage.

I've written about the "Apollo moments" and feeling cheated as a generation without any. But today, my hope is restored. Who knows, the Orion program may get cancelled just like its Ares brethren before it, and the next administration may decide to deorbit ISS; but this little team of engineers and scientists and program managers and launch personnel who believe in space, support pushing boundaries, and stand up for programs they believe in, hit a milestone today.

We are closer than ever to our own "Apollo moment" and as I sat at my desk at the Johnson Space Center watching the mission and splashdown, I was struck with the passion that exists here. Even though our ADCO group doesn't have much to do with Orion, everyone was crowded around their computers with multiple live streams of telemetry and video.

We were all rooting for our Orion friends. Congrats on your first, impressive, mission.

Images from AP and NASA. 

Orion launched on a Delta IV Heavy today, but future flights will use the Space Launch System, designed in Huntsville, AL by many of my good friends!

The fragile limb of the Earth. I can't wait to hear astronaut's words as they experience this view!