On Tuesday, Orion will fly 55 seconds before violently escaping from its rocket

On Tuesday, Orion will fly 55 seconds before violently escaping from its rocket

Nearly five years have passed since NASA first launched its Orion spacecraft to an apogee of 5,800km above the Earth, completing a successful test flight of the capsule intended to carry astronauts to lunar orbit in the 2020s.

Now, NASA is preparing for its second Orion launch, although this flight will be considerably shorter. On Tuesday morning, NASA intends to launch a boilerplate version of Orion—essentially a well instrumented vehicle without any life-support equipment or many other critical systems—on top of a solid rocket booster built by Northrop Grumman.

The rocket is actually an old Peacemaker intercontinental ballistic missile, now refurbished for commercial purposes. It will launch the Orion to an altitude of nearly 9.5km above the Florida coast in order to test Orion’s launch abort system at the

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Kelly’s Heroes: Lockheed’s five finest airplanes

Kelly’s Heroes: Lockheed’s five finest airplanes

Update: It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, and the Ars staff has a long weekend accordingly. As we all reflect on the sacrifice of the people bravely serving in the Armed Forces, we thought resurfacing this piece—an homage to some of the finest aviation ever deployed by the US—would be a welcomed accompaniment. This story originally ran on March 4, 2016, and it appears unchanged below.

Roughly 110 years ago, one of the world’s greatest aircraft designers—Clarence “Kelly” Johnson—was born in Ishpeming, Michigan. And since we’re gigantic aviation nerds here at Ars Technica, the week of his birthday (February 27) is as good a reason as any to celebrate some of his legendary designs. Johnson spent 44 years working at Lockheed, where he was responsible for world-changing aircraft including the high-flying U-2, the “missile with a man in it” F-104 Starfighter, and the almost-otherworldly Blackbird family of

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