Overview of Orion's Successful Flight Test
NASA's Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they've ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. After years of design, fabrication, and testing, Orion completed a perfect launch into Earth's orbit on the morning of December 5, 2014. After returning to Earth, NASA's Orion spacecraft was seen from an unpiloted aircraft descending under three massive red and white main parachutes. Shortly afterward it had a bullseye splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles southwest of San Diego. During the uncrewed test, Orion traveled twice through the Van Allen belt, where it experienced periods of intense radiation, and reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth. The spacecraft hit speeds of 20,000 mph and weathered temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth's atmosphere. The Orion Flight Test evaluated launch and high-speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes, and the heat shield.