10:03 GMT26 January 2021
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    The first flight of a new US rocket in 2018 will carry into space 13 small satellites, also known as CubeSats, along with an unmanned Orion spacecraft, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a press release.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — One of the CubeSats will be placed in a low orbit 62 miles from the Moon’s surface to search for water, according to NASA.

    "These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the journey to Mars," the release stated on Tuesday.

    Another CubeSat will use yeast to detect, measure and compare the impact of deep space radiation on living organisms over long durations, the release explained.

    A CubeSat called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout is planned to perform reconnaissance of an asteroid, take pictures and observe its position in space, the release added.

    The Orion spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts on long-duration flights that will eventually travel to Mars. NASA said it plans to lift the Orion from Earth on a powerful new rocket called the Space Launch System.

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