“Just before the Delta IV ignition sequence starts, valves open that control the flow of liquid hydrogen to the engines. Some of that hydrogen seeps out of the engine bells and lingers around the rocket. When the engines roar to life, the excess hydrogen ignites, creating a fireball that chars the booster cores. Occasionally, the insulation on the booster cores smolders as the rocket lifts off.” (Jason Davis, The Planetary Society)
“We’re actually excited about this particular step on our journey to the Red Planet, to Mars. It is a journey. I don’t want people to get focused on the destination. This is a journey.” (Charles Bolden, NASA administrator Dec., 3, 2014)
Great plans ahead for a successful Orion. NASA has already scheduled a second unmanned flight for 2018, and a manned mission to travel around the moon for 2020. By 2025 the space agency’s plan is to ship people to a captured near-Earth asteroid in lunar orbit. Finally, the planned deadline to send astronauts to Mars will be sometime in the 2030s.