Last week NASA had a trial flight using the Orion capsule that is designed to take people to Mars.
The test comprise of not only successful journeys, but two intentional fails in order to see how the spacecraft would land on is journey if it fell back to Earth. Although previous attempts have proven difficult, this go around was positively received, with only a few engineering issues in the beginning, according to Dispatch Times.
During the test, in order to address all possible scenarios, they restricted two drogue parachutes from opening. In order to find out what would happen if this malfunction occurred during a live trip, it was necessary to see how the spacecraft would fend on its return into the Earth’s atmosphere.
This is NASA’s first test for the craft before venturing on to adding a crew into the equation. The most recent mock flight that touched down in Arizona had the craft travel into space, twice through the Van Allen belt where it was confined by intense periods of radiation 3,6000 miles above the Earth.
In a recent report from C.J. Johnson, the project manager for Orion’s parachute system, he said that the tests are absolutely necessary because, “Orion’s parachute performance is hard to model with computers.”
This was just one of the many Earthbound tests for Orion’s functionality before stepping into the next phase of putting it into the cosmos on missions. It also was the first. Back in 2008, when Orion left without one of its parachutes during a test, this time not intentionally, the craft fell to the ground and crashed upside-down at full speed.
NASA is hoping to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020’s with both Orion and the world’s most powerful rocket they are developing, the Space Launch System (SLS). And after that, in 2030 they have plans to get them to Mars. At this time, Orion has been able to reach speeds up to 20,000 miles per hour and withstand temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its reentry.