NASA conducts another splashdown test for its Orion spacecraft

NASA conducts another splashdown test for its Orion spacecraft

On Thursday, the US space agency NASA performed the second to last splashdown test for its Orion spacecraft, while getting ready to ultimately send humans to the Red Planet.

With the help of a pendulum and explosives, NASA's Langley facility scientists vaulted a test capsule into a water pool at roughly 25 mph. Initially the 11-foot craft got hidden behind a bowl-shaped splash and then bounced buoyantly against safety netting.

Last time a NASA spacecraft was parachuted into the ocean with crew on board during the Apollo missions in 1970s. The US space agency officials said that the rules of physics haven't seen any change but technology has improved radically.

The heat shield of the capsule isn’t steel anymore, but is composed of carbon fiber and titanium, which makes it very strong and light.Earlier, there used to be a couch-like seat to hold all the crew members, but now each astronaut has separate custom-made chair for the better spine protection.

Now, with the onset of computer simulations, the number of actual splashdown tests has shrunk from 100 to 10.

Mark Baldwin, an analyst with Lockheed Martin, the main contractor behind Orion, said, “A capsule hitting the water hasn't changed, but what we know about it has”.

When scientists conducted the test on Thursday over 500 instruments measured the aspects of the impact, like the strain level on heat shield and the aluminum cabin. For the measurement of the safety designs, there were crash test dummies present inside.

Ronny Baccus, Orion's structure system manager, said that they have started depending onsplashdowns again because they need lesser instruments in comparison to touching down on land, and in them more space can be given to supplies and other instruments.


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