The test capsule will travel from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to 5,793 kms (3,600 miles) above the earth’s surface in order to be tested under high radiation. According to NASA’s flight schedule, when the test is complete the capsule will land 965 kms (600 miles) southwest of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean.
Orion’s launch abort system as well as the capsule’s heat shield, which will experience temperatures around 2,204 Celcius (4,000 Fahrenheit) in preparation for housing humans during future missions, were tested. The capsule is also equipped with 1,200 sensors to test its durability during the flight around earth.
Lockheed Martin built the Orion for NASA and is staging the vessel’s first $370 million test flight. Orion is also NASA’s first new spacecraft designed for humans in more than a decade, replacing the space agency’s retired shuttles.
Future Orion launches will use a new “mega rocket” that’s still being developed by NASA, known as the SLS or Space Launch System. The first human piloted mission for Orion is set to be in 2021.
However, it won’t be until the 2030s that NASA actually sends humans to Mars. NASA also built a new countdown clock just in time for Orion’s first launch.
Original article and pictures take http://o.canada.com/technology/space/nasa-announces-plans-to-send-humans-to-mars site