Engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, in New Orleans, announce that they've just completed the final weld on the first Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) that will actually fly to space. The mission is called Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1).
The spacecraft still has to undergo final assembly procedures and checkout operations at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida, before launch. At this point, NASA has not yet revealed when it would be transporting the capsule from New Orleans to Florida.
The first MPCV is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2014, from Space Launch Complex 37B (SLC-37B) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The vehicle will be carried to space aboard a Delta IV Heavy delivery system.
Once it exits the atmosphere, Orion will move to an orbit some 3,600 miles (5,793 kilometers) above the surface of the planet, which is about 15 times farther away than the International Space Station. As it returns, the capsule will travel at a top speed of 25,000 miles (40,233 kilometers) per hour.