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Orion Test Flight will take place on December 4 for deeper space exploration, including Mars. (NASA Photo)

6 Key Stages During NASA Spacecraft Orion’s Maiden Test Flight on Dec. 4

 Orion has been unveiled on Monday by the US space agency NASA ahead of its maiden flight scheduled for test on December 4. The launch involves more than mere a rocket that goes into deeper space exploration reaching a height of 3,600 miles or 15 times higher than the current International Space Station. It will orbit the Earth twice during the 5 hour mission.

EFT1_InfoG Here are the 6 key stages during Orion’s first flight, apart from the launch and recovery.


Orionsketch1

 

Launch

It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be bright. It’s going to be smoky. Engines are fired, the countdown ends and Orion lifts off into space atop the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Orionsketch2

Exposure

It’s time to fly! The protective panels surrounding the service module are jettisoned and the launch abort system separates from the spacecraft.

 

 

 

Orionsketch3Re-ignition

Orbit 1 is complete! The upper stage will now fire up again to propel Orion to an altitude of 3,600 miles during its second trip around Earth.

 

 

 

Orionsketch4


Separation

It’s now time to prepare for reentry. The service module and upper stage separate so that only the crew module will return to Earth.

 

 

Orionsketch5

Orientation

Orion’s first flight will be uncrewed, but that doesn’t mean we can allow Orion to return to Earth upside down. This test flight will help us test the control jets to ensure that they can orient the capsule in the correct reentry position.

 

 

Orionsketch6Heating
Things are heating up as Orion slams into the atmosphere at almost 20,000 mph and encounters temperatures near 4,000 degrees F.

 

 

 

 

 

Orionsketch7


Deploy

After initial air friction slows the capsule from 20,000 mph, Orion will still be descending at 300 mph—too fast for a safe splashdown. A sequence of parachute deployments will create drag to further slow the spacecraft to a comfortable 20 mph.

 

 

Orionsketch8

Landing

Orion will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, where it will be recovered with help from the United States Navy, completing the mission.

 

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