Orion fairing installed before the first test-flight. The integration of one of the fairing protective panels over the Orion vehicle on its Delta IV Heavy launcher in preparation for the Exploration Flight Test 1 mission of December 2014.The panels protect the crew module from sound and vibration during launch are installed just below the Launch Abort System tower.
The Crew Module sits atop the service module and can hold four astronauts and cargo. This the only part of Orion designed to reenter Earth’s atmosphere: the heatshield protects it against the intense heat of reentry at 32 000 km/h.
A number of elements are required only during launch and are discarded shortly before entering space. The Spacecraft Adapter attaches Orion to its launch vehicle. The Spacecraft Adapter Jettisonable Fairings offer aerodynamic protection during launch. When the vehicle is high enough above Earth, the fairings are jettisoned to fall into the ocean.
As Orion ferries people to space and back, safety is paramount. If anything were to go wrong during launch, an abort will propel the crew capsule up and away from the danger, returning it to the ground by parachute. The Launch Abort System forms the nose of the complete launcher and has rockets of its own that fire in an emergency. It, too, is discarded at altitude.