If the test goes as as planned, Orion will slam back into the atmosphere with roughly 84 percent of the forces a spaceship returning from a lunar orbit would have.
"It's really going to stress the heat shield, which is exactly what we're trying to do," said NASA program manager Mark Geyer.
Plans call for a second Orion capsule, expected to launch in 2017, to be put into lunar orbit.
Kennedy Space Center, which was hit hard by the retirement of the space shuttles last year, is in the midst of transforming itself into a multipurpose launch site for government, commercial and other other users.
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With the space shuttles heading out to museums, the arrival of a new piece of equipment was especially welcome.
"It's not a PowerPoint chart. It's a real spacecraft," said Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana.
Image: The Orion deep-space capsule that is scheduled to make the first test flight in 2014 is lowered into a workstand at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Gianna Woods/NASA.