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NASA's Orion spacecraft rides 'fountain of fire' on first test flight
[i]NASA's "first step to deep space" has launched into Earth orbit.
The space agency's first prototype Orion capsule lifted off Friday morning (Dec. 5) on a four and a half hour flight test aimed at proving the effectiveness of the new spacecraft's heat shield and other systems needed to send astronauts beyond the Earth, to an asteroid and ultimately Mars. The uncrewed mission, called Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), is the first time since the Apollo program that a NASA space capsule designed for a crew has flown.
"[This flight] is building upon the legacy of Apollo," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told collectSPACE.com in a press conference held at the launch pad Wednesday. "For the first time in more than 40 years, this nation is going to launch a spacecraft intended to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit. That's a big deal."[/i]
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