With access doors at Space Launch Complex 37 opened on Nov. 24, 2014, the Orion spacecraft and Delta IV Heavy stack is visible in its entirety inside the Mobile Service Tower where the vehicle is undergoing launch preparations. Orion will make its first flight test on Dec. 4 with a morning launch atop the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. Orion’s crew module is underneath the Launch Abort System and nose fairing, both of which will jettison about six minutes, 20 seconds after launch. The tower will be rolled away from the rocket and spacecraft 8 hours, 15 minutes before launch to allow the rocket to be fueled and for other launch operations to proceed.
The spacecraft will orbit the Earth twice, including one loop that will reach 3,600 miles above Earth. No one will be aboard Orion for this flight test, but the spacecraft is being designed and built to carry astronauts on exploration missions into deep space. Launch is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7:05 a.m. EST, the opening of a 2 hour, 39-minute window for the day.
Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett