It's been two weeks since a test version of NASA's Orion deep-space capsule took an uncrewed ride to a spot in outer space 3,600 miles from Earth and back, but the space agency has just released a video showing what astronauts would have seen during the spaceship's descent and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The views were captured by cameras mounted inside the capsule to look out the windows. The video begins 10 minutes before Dec. 5's Pacific Ocean splashdown, with a look at our blue planet and the flare-up of the plasma created during the spacecraft's fiery plunge through the atmosphere. After going through re-entry, Orion deploys its parachutes while one of the cameras looks straight up at the sky. Seconds before the video stops, you can see the ocean's spray splashing over the lens.
Orion's next deep-space test won't come until 2018, when another uncrewed capsule is due to go around the moon and come back for a similar splashdown. If all goes well, actual astronauts will be aboard for another round-the-moon mission in 2021, opening the way for later trips to study an asteroid and visit Mars and its moons.
Test Flight of NASA’s Orion a Success From Launch to SplashdownDec. 6, 201402:38
- Orion Spacecraft Returns to Home Base in Florida
- Splashdown! Orion Aces Its First Flight Test
- How Space Exploration Will Work in the Orion Era