by Staff Writers
Washington (Sputnik) Dec 08, 2014
The successful test flight of the Orion spacecraft marks a milestone in US President Barack Obama's space policy, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.
"It is certainly an important milestone in achieving president Obama's bold vision to send humans to an asteroid in 2020s and to Mars a decade later," Earnest told reporters, adding that "we look forward to future milestones".
The unmanned Orion spacecraft circled the Earth twice during a four-and-a-half hour flight, reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles before it re-entered Earth's atmosphere and fell into the Pacific Ocean.
A microchip carrying the names of more than a million people was onboard the spacecraft along with other souvenirs from Earth, including coins, flags, a Sesame Street muppet, a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil, an oxygen hose from an Apollo 11 spacesuit and a sample of lunar soil.
Orion's next test flight is scheduled for 2018 and the first crewed flight will not take place before 2021. The earliest Orion could go to Mars is in 2030s, according to NASA.
Source: Sputnik News
Orion at NASA
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