The new generation of human space exploration spacecraft is getting a new generation clock to count it down for launch on December 4. The new forms of both the spacecraft and clock will look familiar, but carry substantial changes and are run by modern technology. In the same way that NASA's Orion is a capsule shape akin to Apollo, the new countdown display at Kennedy Space Center's Press Site doesn't look all that different from its predecessor. And again, just as in the case of Orion and Apollo, the new version of the countdown display is far more capable and boasts technology more akin to a stadium television than a simple wristwatch. The new display, which sits on the same mount as the former countdown clock, is already up and running and has been showing NASA TV images along with a test countdown in the lower corner. The completion of the display came about a week before Orion heads to space on its first flight test. News media, families of center employees and NASA guests will do as so many have done before: follow the progress of the countdown on the grassy area around the turn basin while looking out toward the launch pad for the rocket to ignite. This time though, they will be able to get far more from the display than the clicking lights and numbers. NASA's whole prelaunch program will be available to showcase on the display. So if the numbers stop counting down, those following along won't have to wonder whether it is a built-in hold or a technical glitch with the rocket – they'll know quickly from the screen. via NASA.
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