Orion will be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed. It will provide emergency abort capability, sustain astronauts during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space.
The 2014 uncrewed flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1 or EFT-1, will be loaded with a wide variety of instruments to evaluate how the spacecraft behaves during launch, in space and the through the searing heat of reentry.
Later Orion spacecraft will take astronauts on missions to destinations far beyond Earth, like an asteroid and Mars.
Assembly at Kennedy will take place in the high bay of the Operations and Checkout Building, or O&C. The O&C was refurbished extensively in 2006 and has been outfitted with large fixtures and tools to turn the aluminum shell of Orion into a functioning spacecraft complete with avionics, instrumentation and heat shield.
Designed with astronauts in mind, Orion will take crews beyond Earth orbit for the first time since 1972, when Apollo 17 completed the last moon landing. The Space Launch System, or SLS — a gigantic rocket akin to the Saturn V that launched the Apollo spacecraft — is being developed to launch future Orion missions to deep space. The first launch of the SLS, with Orion atop, is scheduled for 2017.