The Planetary Society Blog
When SpaceX's Dragon capsule returned from its historic trip to the International Space Station this May, it proved that -- in theory -- the idea of having private spaceflight companies relieve NASA of its low-Earth orbit taxi duties can succeed. Meanwhile, work continues on the Space Launch System, the next-generation deep space vehicle slated to take humans beyond Earth for the first time since 1972.
Orion arrives at KSC -- Amid much pomp and circumstance, the first space-bound Orion capsule arrived at Kennedy Space Center at the end of June. Orion sat naked during its official unveiling, baring its sea foam-green hull that was constructed using friction stir welding, a process in which metal is 'mixed' at the joint rather than melted (other space vehicles have used this technique, including SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket). NASA officials, astronauts and politicians attended the official unveiling, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who is fond of referring to the SLS by a different moniker: the "Monster Rocket."