NASA is transporting the Orion spacecraft from its Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana to Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a Super Guppy cargo aircraft.
“The pressure vessel of @NASA_Orion for Exploration Mission-1 is heading to KSC today,” explained NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, in a tweet around 12 p.m. ET.
The pressure vessel is the underlying structure of the Orion spacecraft.
“The pressure vessel will fly on the first integrated launch of Orion and NASA's powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System,” noted NASA, in a statement on its website Monday. “The test flight, which will fly without crew, will demonstrate the agency’s new capability to launch future deep space missions, which include missions to an asteroid and Mars.”
NASA explained that the Super Guppy has a cargo compartment that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long and can carry more than 26 tons. The aircraft has a unique hinged nose that can open more than 200 degrees, allowing large pieces of cargo to be loaded and unloaded from the front, it added.