So What Is NASA Planning To Do With Orion?

Now that a prototype of a crew capsule has been built and is ready for testing, it's still not clear how the US' next manned spacecraft will be used.

What's the Latest Development?

After nearly 10 years in development, Lockheed Martin engineers have successfully built a working prototype of the Orion crew capsule, which was intended to replace the space shuttle for manned missions beyond Earth's orbit. Now that it's about to go into an extended testing period, Josh Hopkins -- whose job title is "Space Exploration Architect" -- has many challenges ahead, not the least of which is this: Once this thing is built, where exactly is it going to go?

What's the Big Idea?

Owing to a number of different factors, NASA's goals for the new spacecraft aren't very clear. There are people that want to go back to the moon -- Orion's original destination -- and then there are folks who want to explore an asteroid. Hopkins is thinking a little further afield: "What you might do for the first Mars missions is have the astronauts orbit Mars and land on one of its tiny moons – Phobos or Deimos – and from there they can control rovers on the Martian surface." Furthermore, given that Phobos has very little in the way of a gravitational field, it would be relatively simple for the craft to land and take off. Fortunately, says Hopkins, the different possibilities allow the team to design Orion for flexibility.

Photo Credit: NASA

Read it at BBC Future

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.