FOREST CITY, Iowa – Folks in north Iowa got a first-hand look of an out-of-this world new project.
Contractors with NASA are in Forest City to talk to folks at the WIT Rally about agency’s new space program.
They even brought a model of the new spaceship which will be taking flight for the first time later this year. It’s called the Orion and it’s NASA’s next exploration spacecraft.
“The fact that we as a country can do this, just, I believe sets us apart in the world,” explains Paul Anderson.
Anderson is the Avionics Director for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for NASA and the Orion Project.
He’s talking to folks about the project, which will be taking its first test flight in December.
“It’s going to be going around the each two times. It’s going to be testing out all the systems on Orion, specifically that heat shield. We’re going to be doing a very high velocity re-entry we’re going to be going at 20,000 miles per hour. Heat shield gets up to almost 4,000 degrees, we have to be able to protect the crew,” says Anderson.
The first crewed mission on the Orion won’t be until 2021. NASA is still planning out exactly what the mission will be, but Anderson says for now the plan is for 4 crew members to take a 21 day flight.
“Where we actually go beyond the moon, we go into a lunar orbit and we actually will intercept an asteroid. There is another robotic mission planned to go grab a small asteroid, pull it into that orbit where the Orion crew ca go do data mining, or actually go do mining on the asteroid, pull a sample and then return to earth,” said Anderson.
Anderson is hoping to spark interest in the new space program with folks at the rally. People can even come and sign a poster which will actually be on board during the test flight this December. Several people took advantage of the opportunity to be some part of the flight, even if it’s just their signature.
Anderson is hoping that some might even make the trip to see the launch of the test flight in person.
“It’s open to the public, we hope everybody here who is a Winnebago owner, we would love to have them all make the trek to sunny Florida in December to see our countries next generation of space vehicle get to fly,” he said.