The rocket that will carry an Orion spacecraft into orbit for the first time was moved to Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday. Assembled inside the Horizontal Integration Facility adjacent to LC-37, the United Launch Alliance Delta IVHeavy will be lifted into its vertical position later. The Heavy configuration, which is made up of three Delta IV core stages with one RS-68 engine, is one of the strongest rockets available to NASA while the agency builds the Space Launch System.
The Delta IV Heavy will send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a two-orbit, four-hour flight around Earth that will culminate with a high-speed entry into the atmosphere to test the heat shield’s ability to withstand return from deep space. Though this flight does not include any astronauts, Orion is being designed to fly people beyond Earth orbit for the first time since the Apollo program that landed astronauts on the moon from 1969 to 1972.