NASA is preparing for the maiden launch this week of its new Orion spacecraft, which could help jump-start America's return to human exploration of space, including a journey to Mars.
This unmanned mission is relatively simple, less than five hours long and headed to no place particularly interesting.
Yet the flight's success and what NASA can learn from it are critical to the agency's dreams to send astronauts deep into space.
NASA plans to launch Orion from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket. The plan is for Orion to orbit Earth twice, swinging out to a point 3,600 miles high, then splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of...