Planetary Radio • Dec 09, 2014

Orion Launches Into History

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Jason Davis

Senior Editor for The Planetary Society

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Ellen Stofan

Planetary Geologist and Director of the National Air and Space Museum

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Scott Thurston

Vehicle Integration and Launch Operations Manager for NASA Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Orion spacecraft has taken its first step toward Mars and an asteroid mission. The Planetary Society’s Jason Davis was at the Kennedy Space Center for the December 5 mission. Bill Nye believes Orion will bring far-reaching benefits. Emily Lakdawalla has your guide to New Horizons, awake now for its climactic run at Pluto, and Bruce Betts phones home from Arizona State University, where he helped begin planning for the 2020 Mars rover’s main cameras.

Orion lifts off
Orion lifts off NASA's Orion spacecraft lifts off atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37 on Friday, Dec. 5, 2015.Image: Jason Davis / The Planetary Society

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This week's prize is a 200 point account with, valued at $200 US, for astronomical observation from instruments throughout the world.

This week's question:

What US Navy ship recovered the Orion capsule?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, December 16, at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What relatively bright star in our sky is Pioneer 10 headed for, and will reach the vicinity of in about 2 million years?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What are the TWO active region numbers assigned to the giant sunspot that was visible during the most recent partial solar eclipse. The second number was assigned when the region reappeared as the Sun rotated.


That big October sunspot was designated AR2192, and re-designated AR2209 when it went around for a second time.