The hugely successful first flight test on Dec. 5 of NASA’s Orion spacecraft took it farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years. The two-orbit, 4.5 hour trip into space was designed to test many of Orion’s systems critical to crew safety – with data collected by more than 1,200 onboard sensors. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles southwest of San Diego and was recovered by a team of NASA, U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin personnel aboard the USS Anchorage. Final destination for NASA’s new deep space capsule is Kennedy Space Center in Florida – where its first journey to space began – so engineers there can evaluate the data. Orion will open the space between Earth and Mars for exploration by astronauts and testing of the capabilities and technologies needed for future human missions to Mars. Also, Curiosity’s Mount Sharp findings, New Horizons’ wake-up call and Enabling unique aircraft design.
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