Orion is still a year away from its inaugural launch date, but NASA and the U.S. Navy are already practicing for the craft’s recovery.
Last week, a team of Navy divers practiced their retrieval of a test version of the Orion crew module, attaching tethers to the module and pulling it behind a rigid-hulled Zodiac. It was one of several recovery tests conducted in coordination with NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program.
The USS San Diego served as a command center during the tests, while a variety of smaller vessels got in on the action. The testing took place in the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of California.
Orion is NASA’s new space flight module, designed for deep space travel. NASA hopes Orion will be the first spacecraft to carry astronauts to Mars. A trip to the Red Planet is still some time off, however. In the meantime, Orion is scheduled for a short solo trip and eventually a manned mission to a nearby asteroid.
It will conduct its flight in late 2018. After breaching Earth’s atmosphere via NASA’s newest rocket, the Space Launch System, Orion — without astronauts — will fly around the moon and back.
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