NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Returns to Dry Land in San Diego

Orion Spacecraft Latest News — The NASA Orion spacecraft is back on land in San Diego.

Crews in “America’s Finest City” hauled the capsule on shore Monday night, which was three days after its flawless, unmanned debut test flight around Earth.

“This proves a whole lot of different things for us. It’s going to give us a whole lot of data to create the next generation of spacecraft, similar to this one, that’s going to take humans farther than Earth’s orbit,” said Sunita Williams, a NASA astronaut. “This was a needed stepping stone.”

NASA launched Orion from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Friday. The capsule is designed to one day take astronauts to Mars, though the Orion spacecraft used in the test did not contain key elements that would be needed for a manned flight — such as a life support system.

This $375 million flight was to verify that Orion’s heat shield, parachutes, avionics and other equipment would work as designed. The capsule made a near-bullseye splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, where the USS Anchorage picked up the ship and brought it back. With this successful mission, NASA officials say they’ve got great momentum.

“It set us up on a great foot moving forward,” said Jeremy Graeber, NASA Recover Director. “We’ve got many great things in the next few years and having a great success under our belts just proves that this team really knows how to get this work done and we’re ready to take on big challenges.”

Orion will make a second test flight in about four years, and a third mission — planned for 2021 — will include two astronauts on a flight around the moon.