As reports "Armenpress" citing
The test version of Orion touched down safely in the
It was the first time some parachutes in the system had been tested at such a high altitude.
Engineers also put additional stresses on the parachutes by allowing the test version of Orion to free fall for 10 seconds, which increased the vehicle's speed and aerodynamic pressure.
'We've put the parachutes through their paces in ground and airdrop testing in just about every conceivable way before we begin sending them into space on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 before the year's done,' said Orion Program Manager
'The series of tests has proven the system and will help ensure crew and mission safety for our astronauts in the future.'
After Orion's free fall, its forward bay cover parachutes deployed, pulling away the spacecraft's forward bay cover, which is critical to the rest of the system performing as needed.
The parachutes that slow Orion to a safe landing speed are located under the cover, so the cover must be jettisoned before they can be unfurled.
Engineers also rigged one of the main parachutes to skip the second phase of a three-phase process of unfurling each parachute, called reefing.
This tested whether one of the main parachutes could go directly from opening a little to being fully open without an intermediary step, proving the system can tolerate potential failures.
The test also marked the last time the entire parachute sequence will be tested before Orion launches into space in December on its first space flight test, EFT-1.
During the flight, an uncrewed Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space, farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans has been in more than 40 years.
Orion will travel at the speed necessary to test many of the systems critical to
During its return to Earth, Orion will reach a speed of up to 20,000 mph and experience temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once Orion has made it through the atmosphere, the parachute system, with two drogue parachutes and three massive main parachutes that together cover almost an entire football field will be responsible for slowing it down to just 20 mph for a safe splashdown in the
Earlier this months, engineers began stacking the crew module on top of the completed service module, the first step in moving the three primary Orion elements –crew module, service module and launch abort system – into the correct configuration for launch.
'Now that we're getting so close to launch, the spacecraft completion work is visible every day,' said
'Orion's flight test will provide us with important data that will help us test out systems and further refine the design so we can safely send humans far into the solar system to uncover new scientific discoveries on future missions.'
With the crew module now in place, the engineers will secure it and make the necessary power connections between to the service module over the course of the week.
Once the bolts and fluid connector between the modules are in place, the stacked spacecraft will undergo electrical, avionic and radio frequency tests.
The modules are being put together in the
Here, the integrated modules will be put through their final system tests prior to rolling out of the facility for integration with the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will send it on its mission.
Orion is being prepared for its first launch later this year, an uncrewed flight that will take it 3,600 miles above Earth, in a 4.5 hour mission to test the systems critical for future human missions to deep space.
After two orbits, Orion will reenter Earth's atmosphere at almost 20,000 miles per hour before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the
Orion's flight test also will provide important data for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and ocean recovery of Orion.
The adapter also will be used during future SLS missions.
Earlier this month
But as revealed in a 286-page
The scathing assessment claims that without sufficient funding, a clear goal, or help from nations such as
According to the NRC's report, Pathways to Exploration - Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration, the U.S. should abandon its 'flexible approach' to human missions beyond Earth, set Mars as its ultimate goal and open the door to partnerships with other partners including
This flexible approach currently involves the construction of a heavy-lift rocket known as the Space Launch System (SLS) and a manned capsule spacecraft called Orion.
Both of these are seen as necessities for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit - but as of yet neither has a solid goal beyond a few test flights leading up to 2021.
The NRC recommends
All three options begin with the
The station is seen as vital in testing not only technologies for long-term space travel, but also the psychological and biological strains that will be felt by astronauts.
However, the report claims
Continuing on this path 'is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something
Two of the options then involve sending humans back to the moon, something not favoured by the Obama administration.
'I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before,' Obama said in 2010 when outlining
But these paths would be less technologically daunting, NRC panel co-chairman
One suggestion is that
The other moon-based option would follow the space station with human missions to an orbit beyond the moon, then to an asteroid in its native orbit, then to the lunar surface, the moons of Mars, Martian orbit and then to Mars itself.
This would have the most stops en route to Mars, but poses the least technological risk because milestones have to be met along the way, claimed the NRC.
The third path includes
The report suggests that the path should continue with missions to the moons of Mars, then on to Martian orbit, and finally to the surface of the planet.
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