No one will be aboard NASA's new Orion spacecraft when it launches tomorrow morning. But the space agency has developed the capsule ultimately to ferry astronauts to deep-space destinations like Mars.
Check out the video below for a privileged peek inside the capsule's futuristic interior--and scroll down to see photos showing what Orion would look like with its crew crammed aboard:
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"The goal was to create a cockpit... that would allow the crew to control that spacecraft for that period of time for these deep-space missions, and to have the flexibility so that even if they were away from the planet for months or even years, they would have the information they needed to fly that vehicle and return safely to the Earth," Dr. Lee Morin, a NASA astronaut and mission specialist involved in the spacecraft's design, says in the video.
The craft's control panel will feature mostly "virtual switches" projected on glass computer screens--a weight-saving measure.
“With a physical switch, not only is there the weight of the switch, but you also have the weight of the wire to the switch, and you have to have the weight of the circuity that takes that wire and feeds it into the vehicle computers," Morin says.
Orion is 16.5 feet in diameter and is 10.9 feet tall, making it about 30 percent larger than the iconic Apollo spacecraft. Orion was built to accommodate a crew of four, but could hold up to six for short-duration flights.
NASA hopes to launch Orion on its first manned test flight in 2021.