NASA's Mars spacecraft clears test for launch
NASA and the US Navy have concluded the second round of tests for the Orion spacecraft that can take humans to the Moon and eventually, to Mars.
In a statement, the US space agency said it has concluded a week of preparations for the first space flight test of the Orion crew vehicle.
"We learned a lot about our hardware, gathered good data and the test objectives were achieved," said Mike Generale, a NASA recovery operations manager.
We were able to put Orion out to sea and safely bring it back multiple times, he added.
The tests took place in the pacific ocean off the southern coast of California.
In December, Orion will launch 5,760 km into space in a four-hour flight to test the systems that will be critical for survival in future human missions to deep space.
After two orbits, Orion will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at almost 32,000 km per hour before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
In the future, Orion will launch on NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).
According to NASA, SLS - more powerful than any rocket ever built - will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars.
NASA is now geared up for the next step of testing with a full dress rehearsal landing simulation.
(Posted on 08-08-2014)