SANDUSKY, Ohio — Fifty-thousand pounds of space equipment is currently in Ohio as NASA prepares to take the next step in the quest to return to the moon.
Ohio is the site for testing the Orion spacecraft, so it’s a crucial element to make sure it's fully prepared for the journey ahead.
Dozens of people were at the Mansfield Lahm Airport Sunday waiting to catch a glimpse of NASA's Super Guppy plane hauling space cargo, called the Orion spacecraft.
On Tuesday, Orion departed Mansfield to head 50 miles north to NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky.
The 3News Flying Peacock drone also caught Orion passing through Fitchville in the 9 a.m. hour.
Next, Orion passed through Milan, where some elementary students had a chance to greet it as it rode by.
Orion finally arrived at Plum Brook just after 11:30 a.m. 3News' Andrew Horansky was on scene.
PHOTOS: NASA's Orion spacecraft arrives at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky
Mark Kirasich, Orion Program Manager with NASA’s Johnson Space Center says Orion made history.
“Orion is the heaviest cargo that has ever flown the guppy. And actually, we had some last-minute challenges working out the loads to make sure we knew exactly how to tie the spacecraft down into the airplane,” says Kirasich.
Monday morning NASA opened the nose of the Super Guppy as you can to carefully unload the Orion spacecraft.
Dr. Marla Pérez-Davis, Acting Director with NASA’s Glenn Research Center, says Ohio is important to the overall mission.
“It has been a great partnership with the state of Ohio. From here, the Orion capsule will be transported to Plum Station where it’s going to go through some tests,” says Dr. Perez-Davis.
The testing in Ohio will last for several months.
“We’re going to spend four months putting the space craft through some really rigorous environmental testing. Very hot temperatures, very cold temperatures, and a vacuum environment to make sure Orion is ready to fly to the moon,” says Kirasich.
When the testing is complete in Sandusky, the Orion spacecraft will be loaded back onto the Super Guppy and flown to Florida.
“In five years, we're planning to land on the moon and guess what, we are planning to test the spacecraft that is going to take us back to the moon and then beyond,” says Dr. Perez-Davis.
Fun fact for you: the crew that goes to the moon in 2024 will include a woman. She will be the first woman ever to walk on the moon!