Space

Orion splashes down

Orion splashes down
Artist's impression of Orion re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (Image: NASA)
Artist's impression of Orion re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (Image: NASA)
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Artist's impression of Orion re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (Image: NASA)
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Artist's impression of Orion re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (Image: NASA)
Orion launched earlier today from Cape Canaveral (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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Orion launched earlier today from Cape Canaveral (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Another chapter in the history of spaceflight was written today at 8:29am PST, as the EFT-1 mission ended with the splashdown of the Orion capsule in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Though designed to carry astronauts into deep space, the Orion was unmanned for the flight, which was planned to certify the spacecraft and test critical flight systems.

The Orion was launched earlier today at 7:05am EST from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster on a four-and-a-half-hour flight. The launch was delayed from its scheduled Thursday liftoff due to a sudden rise in local winds that exceeded safety parameters, followed by a pair of valve malfunctions.

The capsule and its dummy service module flew on a two-orbit trajectory that took it farther than any man-rated craft since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. At its highest altitude, Orion traveled 3,600 mi (5,800 km) away from our planet. When it returned to Earth, it was moving at a speed of 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h) and generated temperatures reaching 4,000⁰ F (2,200⁰ C).

Orion launched earlier today from Cape Canaveral (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Orion launched earlier today from Cape Canaveral (Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Splashing down in the Pacific 270 mi (435 km) off the coast of Baja, it is awaiting recovery by specially-trained US Navy divers in Zodiacs from the USS Anchorage assisted by the salvage ship USNS Salvor. Once the craft is determined to be safe, it will be brought aboard Anchorage before being taken ashore and transported by road to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Over the next few weeks, scientists and engineers will assess data from its telemetry and flight recorders.

NASA says that the next flight of the Orion will take place no later than 2018, when it will be launched using the agency's Space Launch System (SLS).

Source: NASA

4 comments
Chizzy
typical nasa hype. next launch in 2018, provided they don't get budget strangled. oh and next time we'll launch it on the rocket its supposed to use. time for nasa to get out of the rocket business. let them make rovers and exploring robot craft. let them build interplanetary craft (the big craft required to ship people and stuff to and from mars), but leave rockets and earth to leo capsules to companies they can source from. they already spend most of their time drawing up mission requirements, and letting other companies build it, its not the inhouse engineering wonderland of the 60s anymore. when the military wanted a craft they didn't go to nasa they went to boeing.
MattII
Now all they need is a job for that thing to do, and hope to hell some short-sighted government doesn't cut the funding, again.
Slowburn
I'll take Dragon.
Rocky Stefano
@Everyone above. Too bad but when military spending continues to outweigh the global defense spending of the next largest 15 countries @ http://goo.gl/vBKa7C . What exactly do you expect from a hamstrung space organization?