NASA Conducts Water Impact Tests On Orion Spacecraft

By  //  October 1, 2012

Speeds, Angles Of Pacific Landing Examined

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – Water impact testing has been completed in Virginia for a piece of equipment that approximates the size and weight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft.

NASA unveiled its new Orion spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center in July after it was shipped here from the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. (Image courtesy NASA)

Vertical drops of the 18,000-pound subject craft simulated water landings for varying speeds, angles, wave heights and winds that Orion astronauts might experience when returning to earth in the Pacific Ocean.

The tests were accomplished at the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., which was where Apollo astronauts once trained to practice lunar landings.

According to a NASA press release, gthe next phase of water impact testing for Orion will employ a model built to scale and will be conducted toward the end of 2013.

Orion has been designed as NASA’s new long-range space program and will carry astronauts farther into space than ever before.

The first unmanned flight test of Orion is planned for 2014 and during that launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Orion is scheduled to accelerate to a speed of more than 20,000 mph.

Also on that test flight, Orion’s heat shield and parachutes will be examined.

If all testing goes well, NASA’s timetable calls for the first manned flights of Orion in 2017 using the new heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket.

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