January 4, 2012

Media Invited To Final Orion Spacecraft Water Landing Test

Media representatives are invited to watch as the Orion crew capsule makes its final water landing test on Thursday, Jan. 5, at NASA's Langley Research Center's Hydro Impact Basin in Hampton, Va.

Testing began last summer to certify the Orion spacecraft for water landings. Orion will carry astronauts into space, providing emergency abort capability, sustaining the crew during space travel and ensuring safe re-entry and landing.

Since July 2011, engineers have conducted eight tests at different angles, heights and pitches to simulate varying sea conditions and impacts that Orion could face upon landing in the Pacific Ocean.

The test will simulate deployment of all parachutes at a high impact pitch of 43 degrees. The capsule will travel approximately 47 mph before splashing into the basin, where it will likely flip over after impact. While this type of landing scenario is not likely to occur during actual vehicle operation, the test will validate models of how the spacecraft would respond. Like the Apollo spacecraft, Orion will have an on-board system that allows the spacecraft to up-right itself in the ocean.

The Hydro Impact Basin is 115 feet long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet deep. It is located at the west end of Langley's historic Landing and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts trained for moonwalks.

Journalists must arrive by 1 p.m. EDT at the NASA Langley main gate. Due to the nature of the testing, an exact drop time cannot be given. If the drop test date changes due to weather or technical reasons, NASA will issue a media advisory.

To ensure access and badging, reporters must contact Amy Johnson by phone at 757-272-9859 or by email at [email protected] by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4.


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