Orion Heat Shield Transported Aboard Super Guppy Plane
The heat shield for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was loaded onto a Super Guppy plane in Manchester, N.H. on Dec. 4, for transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heat shield, the largest of its kind ever built, is being unloaded Thursday, Dec. 5, and is scheduled for installation on Orion in March 2014.
The heat shield will be used in September 2014 during Exploration Flight Test-1, a two-orbit flight that will take an uncrewed Orion capsule to an altitude of 3,600 miles. The returning capsule is expected to encounter temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere at up to 20,000 mph, faster than any spacecraft in the last 40 years.
Data gathered during the flight will influence decisions about design improvements on the heat shield and other Orion systems, authenticate existing computer models, and innovative new approaches to space systems and development. It also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for future Orion missions, which include exploring an asteroid and Mars.
It is important to put budget issues in perspective, so I have a simple request that President Obama, the top members of his administration, and his allies in Congress send a hand written version of this letter to constituents:
Dear low-income American,
I know times are tough. I know many of you saw your savings and home values hurt by Wall Street recklessness. I also know that, with official unemployment above 9 percent, it is tough to find a job, and many have been forced to choose part-time employment that lacks benefits. But as a result of extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, the budget deficit has grown.
So, despite your problems, you are going to be “asked” to sacrifice. Your president is planning to cut $2.6 billion from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps people afford keeping their homes warm during the winter, despite the fact that due to the economic downturn the number of poor people needing help has increased significantly.
I hope you understand that when we had to choose between providing basic necessities to our citizens or fighting about five more days in Iraq and Afghanistan because of [insert newest justification here], we clearly just had to choose the wars over you.