Press Release

NASA Orion First Flight Test Highlighted at NASA Langley

By SpaceRef Editor
November 25, 2014
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Orion, NASA’s new spacecraft built to send humans farther than ever before, is launching into space for the first time next month. Media are invited to participate in a roundtable Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to hear from a number of Langley experts involved in Orion research. 

The uncrewed Orion capsule is scheduled to lift off no earlier than December 4 at 7:05 a.m. atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37 in Florida. Orion will travel to an altitude of 3,600 miles – 15 times higher than the International Space Station – orbit the Earth twice, then splash down in the Pacific Ocean four and a half hours later and be recovered.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, has played a significant role in Orion’s testing and development. Not only did researchers splash test a capsule mock-up more than a dozen times in 2011 and 2012, they have plans to do the same thing in 2016 with a more advanced, high-fidelity model that will be outfitted with the same heat shield that is on the Orion spacecraft. 

Langley also led the development of Orion’s launch abort system – a rocket-propelled emergency escape system for use in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during initial ascent. Researchers have also tested Orion, launch abort system models and Space Launch System models in Langley wind tunnels. To learn more about Langley’s Contributions to Orion, visit:

Interested media should contact Kathy Barnstorff at 757-864-9886 or, no later than 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28.

Langley experts participating in the round table include:

.Kevin Rivers, Orion Launch Abort System Manager
.Ellen Carpenter, Project Manager Orion Water Impact Testing
.Greg Brauckmann, Langley Orion Aerodynamics Technical Lead
.Shih-Yung Lin, Orion Heat Shield Structures Subsystem Manager
.Rick Thompson, Langley Orion Aerothermal Dynamics Technical Lead

The round table is the first of a number of events the week of Dec. 1 that will commemorate Orion’s first flight test. Langley will host a NASA Social on Dec. 3, where social media participants are invited to tour center facilities used in Orion testing and talk to researchers contributing to its success. 

Guests will also visit Langley labs, where NASA is evaluating asteroid grappling and developing lunar habitat technologies. Langley is one of eight NASA Socials across the country marking this next giant leap in U.S. space exploration. Use the hash tag #NASASocial to follow the action.

Langley’s official visitors’ center, the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton, will open its IMAX theatre at 6:15 a.m. Dec. 4, for free public viewing of the launch and splash down. The Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation in Suffolk also will host an invitation-only viewing of the launch. Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, is the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft. 

The Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC) will wrap up the week with a Journey2Mars Family Day on Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate Orion’s first flight test and its future missions to deep-space destinations, including an asteroid and Mars. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities, learn more about NASA’s next steps in human space exploration, and explore Mars through state-of-the-art NASA exhibits. 

The VASC is the only place in the world that people can see four generations of space capsules in one place, including an Orion Test Vehicle, the Apollo 12 Command Module, a Gemini Test capsule, and the Mercury 14. Plus there will be lots of fun for the kids, including a design an Orion display, a tissue “parachute” drop, and a straw rocket. Kids of all ages can take their picture with “astronaut” Spacey Casey and learn more about Mars landers and rovers.   

For more information about NASA’s Langley Research Center, please go to:

For more about the Virginia Air & Space Center, go to:

SpaceRef staff editor.