Orion Reached 3,604 Miles And Will Splashdown At 11:29am ET

Posted: Dec 5 2014, 9:31am CST | by , Updated: Dec 5 2014, 10:04am CST, in News | Technology News

Orion reached 3,604 miles and will Splashdown at 11:29am ET
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The NASA Orion test flight is a success so far. Orion has reached the planned 3,600 miles altitude and is now heading back to earth.

After canceling yesterday's launch, NASA had more luck today and successfully launched Orion into space. The plan is to have the un-crewed Orion orbit 3,600 miles above Earth before splashing down in the Pacific. Orion is being designed to carry astronauts on exploration missions into deep space, including a trip to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket have carried the Orion deep space exploration craft off the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Orion capsule is right now at an altitude of 3,604 miles and is returning for a splashdown west of Baja California after a four and half hour flight.

The Orion Splashdown will be at 11:29am ET. This is in about 1 hour as of writing this report. The capsule is now heading back home at 20,000 mph. NASA said that they will have video from the Orion splashdown. This should be exciting to watch.

You can watch the live NASA coverage of the Orion test flight below.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Watch the impressive Orion launch video below.

A Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying NASA's Orion spacecraft on an unpiloted flight test to Earth orbit. Liftoff was at 7:05 a.m. EST. During the two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission, engineers will evaluate the systems critical to crew safety, the launch abort system, the heat shield and the parachute system.

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.

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.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
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