THE ORION PROJECT
Do you know what the Orion Project is? I didn’t know about it until yesterday. The Navy knows what it is and is practicing to retrieve the Orion space capsule from the ocean where it will land after first going 3600 miles into space.
The capsule is designed to bring humans to the moon, land them on asteroids, and eventually send them off to Mars. Unlike other splashdowns in the ocean, the Orion capsule will be hauled up a ramp on Navy ships with air support supplementing the tricky logistics of getting it on the ramp and divers in the water to retrieve and sections of the craft that may come loose on impact. A rubber baby buggy bumper will also surround the craft to keep it floating as Navy crewmen prepare to bring it aboard.
Orion has already been up in low earth orbit and back again so that the Navy can practice fishing it out of the water. Scheduled launchings include putting Orion in orbit around the moon several times then bringing it back to earth, preparing it for astronauts to be aboard on successive missions, the first being to land humans on an asteroid. This will increase our knowledge about big rocks from outer space that may be a threat to our planet. Experiments on these asteroids will give scientists the information needed to develop plans to keep these rocks, some as large as the city of Cleveland Ohio from impacting on our planet.
The ultimate purpose of the Orion missions will be to send a team of astronauts to land on Mars. This event could conceivably happen before the year 2020 if all things work out. That’s a big IF. There are concerns to be addressed such as long term isolation in space, food, water, backup systems, medical supplies, and of course conservation of fuel since the Orion can achieve speeds of 20,000 miles an hour, the kind of horsepower to get to Mars, land on the planet, and take off again. I imagine the first trip to Mars will be two--fold. First the Orion capsule will go back and forth to Mars with a crew on board and return. Then a second mission will involve landing on Mars and returning to earth.
There’s a long way to go before all of this becomes reality. Both Europe and the United States are involved in the project and China is working on an engine that will enable Orion to supplement fuel from microwaves and space gas. If this all comes together we’ll be on Mars before your little kids graduate from high school. It’s a good time to be a millennial. That generation will find employment and enjoyment of being the first generation to attempt to land on Mars. They will be the first generation to send text messages from space and work on the landing procedures using 3D holograms of the maneuvers involved in operating the mission. But for millennials, that’ll be easy. They’re good at it. Best of luck to these 95 million people and God speed.