A Peek Inside the Orion Spacecraft That Will Fly Us to Mars

The length of humanity’s planned journey to Mars will be much more than the 6 months or so that it’ll take to fly there. Though NASA plans to send astronauts to the red planet sometime in the 2030s or 40s, it’s going to take decades of research and testing to develop the equipment to get us there.

The ship that will carry humans to another planet is the Orion capsule, of which NASA is already testing prototypes. And at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Popular Science got to take a look inside an Orion mock-up.

If the spacecraft looks a little cramped for a 6- to 9-month trip, that’s because the capsule won’t be going to Mars alone. The plan is to launch Orion from Earth and, once in space, have it dock with a larger habitat module (whose design is still TBD) before beginning its journey to Mars.

Plus, Orion engineer Stuart McClung says the spacecraft is not all that small compared to what we use to send astronauts to the International Space Station. “If you walk over to the Soyuz capsule on the other side of the building, this is like a big stretch limo compared to that Soyuz capsule.”

The engineers at the Johnson Space Center use the Orion mock-up for designing, training, and testing–for example, deciding on a seat layout and crew interfaces. (Read more from “A Peek Inside the Orion Spacecraft That Will Fly Us to Mars” HERE)

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