Watch the Orion Splashdown. NASA provides live video of the Orion Splashdown
The Orion has launched into space for a four-and-a-half hour mission. Orion has reached the orbit 3,604 miles above Earth will be splashing down in the Pacific at 11:29am ET. Orion will splashdown west of Baja California.
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NASA will have a drone and other cameras to deliver live video from the Orion splashdown. The Ikhana unmanned aerial vehicle from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California is flying over the Pacific Ocean near Orion’s landing zone to record the spacecraft as it returns from orbit. The aircraft is equipped with infrared and other cameras to see Orion as it comes through the atmosphere and opens its parachutes.
Update: Orion splashdown was a success. Orion is upright and stable floating in the ocean.
NASA engineers calculated that Orion will splashdown 1.3 nautical miles east of its prelaunch predicted target location about 600 miles west of Baja California. Two Navy ships, the USS Anchorage and USNS Salvor, are waiting in that area to pull the spacecraft out of the water. NASA and Lockheed Martin teams will work with Navy crews to recover Orion.
The Orion splashdown will be exciting to watch. 11 parachutes will open to slow down Orion to 25m/s before splashing into the water.
Watch the live NASA coverage of the Orion test flight below.
About the Orion Test Flight
On this uncrewed test flight, Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will test systems critical to crew safety as it travels farther into space than any spacecraft built for humans has traveled in more than 40 years. During the 4.5-hour flight, Orion will orbit Earth twice, covering more than 60,000 miles (96,600 kilometers) and reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) on the second orbit. (The International Space Station orbits Earth at an altitude of approximately 260 miles, or 420 kilometers).
That altitude will allow the spacecraft to return through the atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 mph (32,000 kph), which will generate temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 degrees Celsius) on Orion’s heat shield. Those temperatures – about 80 percent as hot as Orion would experience returning from lunar orbit – will provide the most challenging test currently possible. The flight test will also validate systems such as Orion’s parachutes, avionics and attitude control, and demonstrate major separation events such as the launch abort system jettison and the service module fairing separation.
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All of these systems must perform flawlessly to guarantee safe, successful missions in the future. Although they have been tested extensively on the ground, the space environment cannot be replicated completely on Earth, and Exploration Flight Test-1 will provide critical data that will enable engineers to improve Orion’s design and reduce risk for the astronauts it will carry as NASA continues to move forward on its human journey to Mars. Although Orion is a NASA program, Exploration Flight Test-1 is managed and led by Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin and will launch on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket.