Officials at NASA are proud to announce that a test model of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) successfully completed a new water impact/drop test, on August 23. The assessment was carried out at the space agency's Langley Research Center, in Virginia.
The test version of Orion weighs around 18,000 pounds (8,165 kilograms). It was dropped from a small height into the specially-designed Hydro Impact Basin, while engineers took measurements on how the vehicle handled the strain.
Such tests are essential for certifying the MPCV as fit to transport human astronauts. NASA plans to conduct its first flight test using the new, 7-astronaut capsule in 2014. The flight will be unmanned.
The first joint flight, featuring Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, is expected to occur by 2020. Within 5 years of that flight, NASA
should be able to put a human crew on a near-Earth asteroid.