Watch NASA launch a test spacecraft into a million gallon pool


A test version of the crew capsule from NASA’s Orion lunar mission awaits its dive on April 6.

Screenshot from NASA TV by Amanda Koosre / CNET

NASA’s Artemis program aims to get astronauts back to the moon for the first time since the Apollo era. The successful agency ignited part of his large SLS rocket system last month. On Tuesday, NASA launched a test version of the Orion spacecraft into a large pool of water. Really big.

After a space trip, Orion dives into the ocean with the help of a parachute. To make sure it’s safe for humans, NASA is collecting data on its performance through a series of water impact drop tests at the Langley Research Center in Virginia.

NASA TV broadcast the raindrop live, which produced a satisfying splash. The test seemed to go well and the capsule performed as expected.

The 14,000-pound (6,350-kilogram) test version of Orion mimics the one that will fly through space for a future manned Artemis mission. The capsule landed in a million gallon (3.8 million liters) pool of water called the Hydro Impact Basin after being released from a height of 7 feet (2 meters).

“The test data will help engineers better understand what Orion and its crew may experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean,” NASA said in a statement in March.

The space agency is planning more tests, including a drop test from a greater height and a test that will involve balancing Orion in the water from an angle.

NASA has been considering an ambitious 2024 date for the return of astronauts to the moon through the Artemis program.

Before putting its boots on the lunar surface, NASA plans to launch an unmanned Artemis I mission starting this year and then a manned Artemis II mission around the moon as early as 2022. That would be the first chance for humans to experiment. an ocean landing. in an Orion capsule. It should be quite a journey.

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