Launch of New Spaceship Has NASA Flying High

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -
In a photo provided by NASA, the Orion space capsule is seen atop a Delta IV rocket ready for a test launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Wednesday, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.  (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls)
In a photo provided by NASA, the Orion space capsule is seen atop a Delta IV rocket ready for a test launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Wednesday, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls)

With the imminent debut of its Orion spacecraft, NASA is on a high not felt since the space shuttle days.

Shuttle veterans, in fact, are leading the charge in Thursday morning’s two-orbit, 4-1/2-hour test flight, meant to shake out the capsule before astronauts climb aboard — eventually, perhaps, to visit Mars.

Orion is set to fly farther than any human-rated spacecraft since the Apollo moon program, aiming for a distance of 3,600 miles, more than 14 times higher than the International Space Station.