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December 19, 2016 - NASA's Next Spacecraft

NASA’s Next Spacecraft  Orion is NASA’s next-generation human spaceflight vehicle, built by Lockheed Martin to allow astronauts to soon travel farther than ever before: beyond low-Earth orbit, back to the Moon, to an asteroid, and one day to Mars. Orion’s first flight, EFT-1, occurred on December 5, 2014. An uncrewed and pared-down version of the vehicle was launched into a single orbit 5,800 km (3,600 mi) above Earth to test the flight, reentry, and splashdown capabilities of the spacecraft. The data gathered during the successful EFT-1 flight is being used to perfect the design of Orion and make sure that it is ready for future long-term deep-space missions by human explorers. Orion’s next launch, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), will be an uncrewed flight in 2018 aboard NASA’s new SLS rocket.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

December 19-25, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 19

Mercury appears stationary

1960: MR-1A launched, first Mercury capsule
1961: CNES founded
1966: United Nations approves Outer Space Treaty
1999: STS-103 Discovery launched
2012: Soyuz TMA-07M launched carrying ISS Expedition 34/35 crew
2013: Gaia spacecraft launched

Moon phase Tuesday 20

Last Qtr Moon 8:56 PM ET 

1904: Mount Wilson Solar Observatory founded
1972: Final M2-F3 lifting body flight
1978: Venera 12 lander lands on Venus
2009Soyuz TMA-17 launched carrying ISS Expedition 22/23 crew

Moon phase Wednesday 21

Solstice 5:44 AM ET

1968: Apollo 8 launched
: Vega 2 launched
: Cosmonauts Titov and Manarov return after spending one year aboard Mir space station
2011Soyuz TMA-03M launched carrying ISS Expedition 30/31 crew
2015: SpaceX Falcon 9 makes first powered vertical landing of orbital booster

Moon phase Thursday 22

Jupiter 2° south of Moon
Ursid meteor shower

1966: Luna 13 launched
1966: First glide test of the HL-10 lifting body

Moon phase Friday 23

Ursid meteor shower

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn’s moon Rhea

Moon phase Saturday 24

Hanukkah begins at sunset

1968: Apollo 8 enters lunar orbit
1978: Venera 11 lands on Venus
1979: European Space Agency launches first Ariane rocket

Moon phase Sunday 25

Christmas Day

Moon at apogee

1642: Isaac Newton born
2003: Mars Express and Beagle 2 arrive at Mars
2004: Huygens probe separates from Cassini spacecraft

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.