NASA launches Orion along with hopes of getting to Mars

After an aborted liftoff the day before, NASA finally launched the Delta IV Heavy rocket known as Orion on its first test flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Dec. 5, 2014.

“It’s a difficult mission. It’s a tough environment to fly through. It had tough objectives that we set up for this flight. But it appears that Orion and the Delta IV Heavy were nearly flawless. Great job by the team,” NASA’s Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer said in an interview with VOA News.

Orion’s test flight took approximately four and a half hours as it circled around Earth twice before reentering the atmosphere and splashing down off of Baja California.

The test flight was not only a symbol of success, it was also a symbol of NASA’s ultimate mission for the rocket safely putting astronauts on Mars.

“I think they will [get to Mars when they said]. I am hoping they will, because going to Mars is awesome.,” Zane Hurley, sixth grade science teacher said.

The Orion rocket was much different from the other recent spacecraft of the world. After the space shuttle program was cancelled several years ago, NASA decided to go back to the capsule style rocket that was used for momentous missions like the moon mission.

“They seem to have had a lot more success with that type, as opposed to the space shuttle where it seemed they didn’t do a lot other than go to the International Space Station,” Dave Cantor, sixth grade science teacher said.

Just months earlier, two spacecraft had crashed in a one week span. Both accidents re-exposed the notion that space travel was risky. The successful Orion launch showed that space travel could also be a success.

“Those two crashes were private companies and one was using an experimental fuel. Those two were bad for private space travel, not space travel as a whole. Orion was NASA and of any group of people in the world, NASA is the most experienced in space travel,” Cantor said.

Mars travel has been a topic of conversation for decades, but now it is a reality. A successful mission to Mars would also answer a question that has been asked ever since NASA was established under President John F. Kennedy: “Will we find life on Mars?” Scientists have yet to find any solid proof, but Cantor thinks that traces of life will be found. However, he thinks the life won’t be anything that is advanced.

Cantor said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we found bacterial fossils. I think Mars used to be a lot more friendly to life. Not so much now, but back before it lost its atmosphere, I think that there was some life. However, I don’t think there was friendly long enough to get anything more advanced than bacteria living on the planet.”