manned space flight

conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days.

There have been many manned spaceflights since the 1960s.

  • Apollo 8 – December 1968. It was the first manned spaceflight to leave Earth orbit and first to orbit the Moon. Commander Frank Borman, Pilot Jim Lovell and Bill Anders photographed and studied the Moon from above, and returned to Earth.
  • Space Shuttle first flew in the 1980s

Future manned spaceflights

  • Orion – NASA’s first manned spacecraft project to reach test-flight status since the Space Shuttle first flew in the 1980s. It is designed to carry up to six astronauts on deep space missions to Mars and asteroids, either on its own or using a habitat module for missions longer than 21 days.

major components of the Orion spacecraft

  • Orion crew capsule – pressure vessel, heat shield, parachute system, avionics, re-entry
  • service module
  • launch abort system
  • Delta IV Heavy rocket


  • component building
  • assembly
  • unmanned test flight

Engineering ideas

  • ammonia, propellent, pressure vessel, rocket, heat shield, launch, abort, parachute system, avionics

Do It
Challenges for you to work on…

  • Find images and video of manned spaceflight missions. What was the purpose of the mission? Was it successful? What is special about your selected images?