Early Thursday morning, NASA will test fly a new vehicle designed to carry astronauts into space—for the first time since 1981.
Utah’s NASA ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the Orion spacecraft will orbit the earth two times then re-enter the atmosphere, plunging into the Pacific Ocean hours after its launch. Though this initial trip will only take the spacecraft 3,600 miles away from earth, the ultimate goal of the craft is to, decades into the future, land on Mars.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the first humans get to Mars. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it’s going to happen eventually,” Wiggins said. “So that’s basically what this thing is, it’s a way to get humans way out into space."