At Naval Base San Diego in California, a crane is used to lift the Orion boilerplate test vehicle out of its cradle and transfer it to the USS Salvor, a safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship that will be used for Underway Recovery Test 4A. The ship will head out to sea for four days to test crew module crane recovery operations. NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy are conducting the test to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. The underway recovery test will allow the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, new hardware and personnel in open waters.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is conducting the underway recovery test. Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch in December 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket and in 2018 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: Kim Shiflett