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NASA completes another test of Mars-bound craft Orion

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — NASA today completed another test of its Mars-bound spacecraft Orion, this time with the help of two crash-test dummies to simulate a return-to-Earth splashdown scenario. The test lasted all of about ten seconds and is ninth test of a ten-part water impact series NASA began conducting in April.

See the complete test in the video below. Fast forward to the 19:20 mark of the video to see the splashdown.

Thursday’s test was done by swinging Orion like a pendulum to simulate the scenario in which one of its parachutes might have failed. After a few seconds of swinging, Orion was dropped into the 20-foot deep Hydro Impact Basin, an outdoor pool facility, at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Inside the mock-up were a number of sensors along with the crash-test dummies — one of the dummies represented a 105-pound woman, the other a 220-pound man. Both were equipped with spacesuits, and were covered in sensors themselves so engineers could analyze the impact of the landing would have on a human’s body.

Orion is the craft NASA plans to use as a vehicle to send humans on deep-space ventures, such as asteroids or Mars. Once returning to earth, the craft deploys parachutes to slow its descent toward the ocean, similarly to that of the astronauts who took part in the Apollo missions.

However, because Orion is an entirely new breed of spacecraft, NASA must conduct the tests in an effort to understand how the vehicle will behave upon landing under a large range of scenarios. The easiest way to describe the craft would be Apollo’s Saturn V rocket on steroids.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Orion spacecraft lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR4GUK3

The Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Orion spacecraft lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

 

While the destination is the most name-catching part of the program, NASA wouldn’t consider a deep-space journey a success without returning its astronauts home safely. Making this task more difficult is the fact that astronauts’ bodies are already weakened by long-duration exposure to the weightless environment of space prior to landing.

Taking that into consideration, NASA are currently making preparations for a wide range of landing scenarios, including extreme weather conditions to failed parachute deployment before sending humans into space with Orion.

The first crewed Orion flight isn’t scheduled to take place until the year 2023, fittingly named Exploration Mission 2, but in the meantime, the craft will continue flights without its precious cargo. As seen in the image above, NASA completed a successful launching of the craft in 2014 (Exploration Flight Test 1), in which a uncrewed craft was launched atop a Delta IV-Heavy rocket to an altitude of 3,600 miles for two orbits around the planet.

Flying farther than a spacecraft designed to carry humans had flown in more than 40 years, EFT-1 marked a milestone for NASA and (modern) human space exploration.

These tests are all being done as NASA prepare for Exploration Mission 1, Orion’s next big flight, a heavily anticipated event because of the fact it will be the first time the craft flies with its rocket companion, the Space Launch System.

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