The Orion boilerplate test vehicle floats in the Pacific Ocean, a distance away from the USS Anchorage, during the third day of Orion Underway Recovery Test 3. Orange stabilizers on the top of the test vehicle were inflated to simulate the system that will be used to upright Orion in the water after splashdown. U.S. Navy divers in a Zodiac boat, at right, and other team members in a rigid hull inflatable boat prepare the test vehicle for return to the well deck of the ship.
NASA, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Navy personnel are conducting the recovery test using the test vehicle to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module on its return from a deep space mission. The test allows 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