MYSTERY WIRE (AP) — NASA conducted a drop test of its next-generation moon capsule into a watery research facility at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Engineers dropped the 14,000-pound Orion test version just a few feet, helping scientists study how the spacecraft might respond during crewed splashdowns in years to come.
The Orion spacecraft is a vital element of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon.
Drop tests of the Orion crew module began at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on March 23.
Orion crew and service module manager Debbie Korth says they’re helping scientists finalize computer models before crewed test flights.
“The water impact tests are looking at dropping the crew module in a variety of conditions, looking at how the structure responds to that water landing, which is a pretty significant event for the crew module,” she says.
“Yeah, can’t get better than that, it looked like a perfect release,” says data analyst Jacob Putnam, after the Orion test version hit the water.
“With this test we’re ensuring that both the test vehicle, or future Orion vehicle, as well as the occupants inside are safe during any future landings,” he says.
Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon.
The Trump administration had pressed for a moon landing by astronauts by 2024, a deadline increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to achieve at this point.
NASA’s first mission with crew aboard Orion, Artemis II, will carry astronauts around the moon and back, paving the way to land on the lunar surface.
NASA named its moon program Artemis after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, who is the Greek goddess of the moon.