The launch of NASA's Orion Spacecraft isn't slated for another two years, but preparations are well underway for the first mission into deep space: engineers have just completed welding together the Orion crew module.
The Exploration Mission (EM-1) will take place in September 2018, with Orion perched on top of the Space Launch Systems rocket. The mission will send the unmanned module around the moon and back to test out the equipment before a manned mission.
The pressure vessel is comprised of seven large aluminium pieces that Michoud technicians began welding together in September 2015 using a highly precise state-of-the-art process called friction-stir welding.
The friction-stir welding work to assemble the primary structure of NASA's maiden Lunar Orion capsule was just finished last week on Jan. 13.
We're one small step closer to deep space.
Image credit: NASA