Lockheed Martin unveils first Orion spacecraft

The funding to send astronauts to the moon on NASA's new Orion space capsule may have been axed, but it's good for lots of other stuff, from ISS transport flights to deep-space adventures. Lockheed Martin has just unveiled the very first Orion spaceship, along with a fancy new simulation center to test it out in.

Orion looks a lot like Apollo-era capsules, but it's much bigger, designed to seat four to six astronauts, and takes advantage of decades of technological advances. Inside, it's got a glass cockpit based on the one in the Boeing 787, and "improved waste-management facilities" (yay!).

To put Orion through its paces before launching people into space in it, Lockheed Martin built a gigantic Space Operations Simulation Center. It uses full-scale mockups of Orion and the ISS suspended in a giant room to test out robotic docking maneuvers, and can also simulate touchdowns on asteroids and stuff like that.

The first Orion capsule should make it to orbit sometime in 2014, with a manned test flight scheduled for 2016.

Just below, we've got a huge gallery of new pics of the spacecraft and testing center, plus some gratuitous video of an attitude control system test.

Via Lockheed Martin

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