NASA’s Orion capsule arrives at Cape Canaveral Launch pad

Orion arrives at KSC

NASA’s Orion capsule has arrived at its Cape Canaveral launch pad.

Unmanned first test flight on Dec. 4, Orion departed a Kennedy Space Center processing facility to start a 22-mile journey to Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Orion is a $375 million Exploration Flight Test-1 mission, which is targeting a 7:05 a.m. Dec. 4 to take off.

The two-orbit flight will send Orion 3,600 miles into space to test various systems, notably the heat shield during a nearly 20,000-mph reentry through the atmosphere prior to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The mission is one of two test flights without a crew before astronauts are a boarded by NASA’s Space Launch System exploration rocket, possibly by 2021.

By the mid-20s, NASA hopes Orion will take a crew to a small asteroid that has been mechanically pulled to an orbit near the moon. The agency says a human mission to Mars is possible in the 2030s.