NASA's new Orion spacecraft launched on first test flight

Time: Jan.17,2012

U.S. space agency NASA on Friday launched the first test flight of its next-generation Orion capsule, which could one day take humans to Mars.

The Orion spacecraft blasted off at 7:05 a.m. EST (12:05 GMT) atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"LIFTOFF! Orion Begins New Era in Space Exploration!" NASA wrote in its launch blog.

The 370-million-U.S.-dollar launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed by a trio of problems, including a stray boat in the launch zone, strong winds and technical issues.

No astronauts were aboard on this four-and-a-half hour mission, which was designed to test systems critical to crew safety and provide critical data needed to improve Orion's design.


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