John Casper, retired NASA astronaut and Special Assistant for Program Integration for the Orion Program, looks at the San Diego skyline from the deck of the USS Anchorage as the ship departs Naval Base San Diego on the first day of Orion Underway Recovery Test 3. The ship will head out to sea, off the coast of San Diego, in search of conditions to support test needs for a full dress rehearsal of recovery operations. NASA, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Navy personnel will conduct tests in the Pacific Ocean to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. The test will allow the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in open waters.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is conducting the underway recovery tests. 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 Orion is scheduled to launch in 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and in 2018 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/orion. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston