NASA’s long-term plans to move beyond low Earth orbit are making steady, if slow, progress. The Orion spacecraft, in development for 9 years, is about to make its first test flight. Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) will test the spacecraft’s operation in orbit and during re-entry and recovery. The capsule will be launched on board a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket which was moved to the launch pad earlier this month in preparation for its scheduled December 4 blast off.
The next flight won’t be until 2018 which will see Exploration Mission 1 send an Orion capsule beyond the Moon and back on the first test flight of the Space Launch System. LunarSail may be a passenger on that launch.