Relive Orion's deep-space test flight in pictures and videos

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Mariella Moon
December 8th, 2014
In this article: mars, nasa, orion, space, spacecraft, testflight
Relive Orion's deep-space test flight in pictures and videos

On December 5th, NASA's Orion capsule successfully lifted off from its platform at Cape Canaveral in Florida, reaching a max altitude of 3,600 miles in outer space. During the four-and-a-half hour test flight, it entered the Van Allen radiation belt, orbited the planet, survived its fiery re-entry into our atmosphere and dove into the Pacific Ocean to be retrieved by the Navy. Below, you can see images that represent each stage of the spacecraft's flight, from launch to splashdown.

Gallery: Orion's 3,600-mile test flight | 13 Photos

  • Liftoff
  • Liftoff, another view
  • Liftoff, a closer view
  • To infinity, and beyond
  • Looking back
  • Still looking
  • Burning through the atmosphere
  • Parachutin' home
  • Retrieval begins
  • Splashdown
  • USS Anchorage on standby
  • On the way home
  • Safe and sound

NASA and Lockheed Martin will use whatever data they get from this mission to build a better Orion for the next test flight in 2018. That mission will take off using the Boeing-built Space Launch System, which NASA touts as its biggest and most powerful rocket yet. The new and improved Orion will then spend one whole week in deep space, traveling around the moon and back to Earth, if all goes according to plan. After that, NASA plans to launch its first manned-mission to a near-Earth asteroid sometime in the 2020's, before building yet another Orion with living quarters that can sustain astronauts throughout a six-month journey to Mars.

[Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls]

Watch the rocket take off again:

The US Navy retrieves Orion from the ocean:

NASA reviews what happened during the flight test:

NASA's Mars ambitions

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