Orion: a last-ditch effort by a fading empire that will never strike back

nasa orion space launch

 

When a space startup has twice the force for a fraction of the cost, you know the US government has a problem

On Friday, after a weather delay, Nasa launched a very cool space capsule, in what at first blush looked like another Apollo mission. It rose on a massive rocket spewing superheated exhaust like some creature from a Peter Jackson movie. All went well just now – and given the expertise of engineers performing what was essentially an update of a 1970s Apollo mission, that much was expected: a four-seat capsule called Orion will detach any minute now, and soar around the Earth twice, then descend into the atmosphere and finally splash down under some parachutes. There are no people onboard.

Orion is a long-shot demonstration mission that is aimed at no celestial body, nor the moon, Mars or even an asteroid. The United States government’s attempt is aimed at space startups that are trying to muscle their way into the spaceflight industry – and budge NASA out for good. Continue reading