NASA's Orion Spacecraft Completes Successful First Test Flight

Dec 06, 2014 07:20 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

NASA's Orion spacecraft completed a successful first test flight on Friday when the unmanned capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after making two laps around our planet.

The test flight ended four and a half hours after it began and set at least one record: flying further and faster than any capsule built for humans since the Apollo moon program.

The New Orion capsule deployed three orange-and-white-striped parachutes to control its speed to 20 mph and it hit the water at 11:29 a.m. EST, 270 miles west of Baja California, following a test flight that took it to a height of 3,600 miles, according to the space agency.

NASA is hoping that future Orions can carry astronauts beyond Earth's orbit, to asteroids and eventually Mars. They're hoping to send up the first flight with astronauts around 2021.

As soon as the capsule hit the water, recovery crews tried to tow the capsule to an already waiting Navy ship. A number of tasks will now be carried out like heat shield inspection. Information from 1,200 sensors will also be secured on the way back to a San Diego port, according to NASA.

The space agency had some news to share: onboard computer were not affected due to high radiation in space.

"In the coming weeks and months we'll be taking a look at that invaluable information and applying lessons learned to the next Orion spacecraft already in production for the first mission atop the Space Launch System rocket", said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager, according to a company release.

NASA also shared that the capsule reached a peak altitude of more than 14 times father from Earth than the International Space Station.

Lockheed Martin Corp., which is running the $370 million test flight for NASA, chose to go with the Delta IV rocket this time around. Future missions will likely rely on NASA's mega Space Launch System rocket.

NASA's last journey past low-Earth orbit in a vessel built for people was Apollo 17 in December 1972.

See Now: OnePlus 6: How Different Will It Be From OnePlus 5?

© 2021 Auto World News, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
Get the Most Popular Autoworld Stories in a Weekly Newsletter

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics