Reblogged from txchnologist
Next-Generation Space Capsule To Endure First Flight Test
On Dec. 4, NASA will launch the Orion capsule on its first space flight aboard the Delta IV Heavy rocket. The vehicle, which is expected to one day carry astronauts to an asteroid and Mars, will perform its first mission unmanned. It is being loaded up with radiation, heat and acceleration sensors, among numerous other instruments, to perform a fact-finding test flight for future exploration.
The four-and-a-half-hour trip will make two orbits around Earth and also test safety systems that will be critical to keeping astronauts alive and comfortable. Orion will go as far as 3,600 miles above Earth to pass through the Van Allen Belt, an area of high radiation levels, to test shielding designed to protect humans from harmful charged particles as they venture deeper into space.
See the full video below.