A full-scale flight-test mockup of the Constellation program's Orion crew vehicle arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in late March 2008 to undergo preparations for the first short-range flight test of the spacecraft's astronaut escape system later that year. Engineers and technicians at NASA's Langley Research Center fabricated the structure, which precisely represents the size, outer shape and mass characteristics of the Orion space capsule.
The Orion crew module mockup was ferried to NASA Dryden on an Air Force C-17. After painting in the Edwards Air Force Base paint hangar, the conical capsule was taken to Dryden for installation of flight computers, instrumentation and other electronics prior to being sent to the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for integration with the escape system and the first abort flight test in late 2008. The tests were designed to ensure a safe, reliable method of escape for astronauts in case of an emergency.