NASA's Orion Craft Perfectly Touches Down During Its Final Test Before Moon

The final parachute test for the Orion spacecraft has NASA officials hopeful for the craft's performance on its upcoming lunar mission.
Shelby Rogers

Practice makes perfect, especially for spacecraft. NASA's Orion space capsule is no different.

A final iteration of the Orion capsule got dropped six miles (9.7 km) under three parachutes. This was the capsule's final test before getting the vehicle ready for its lunar journey. 

NASA officials still have to process the data, but on video, the test seemed like a success. Orion safely deployed its parachutes in sequence. Orion made its secure landing at the United States Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. 

Mark Kirasich was one of the officials on the ground watching the test. He spoke with media before the event.

"Orion is our new human exploration spacecraft, and this is a spacecraft that will take people farther in space than we've ever gone before," Kirasich said. 

There's quite a bit of focus on the Orion mission. In either 2019 or 2020, an uncrewed Orion craft is expected to launch with NASA's newest Space Launch System rocket and loop around the moon. 

"After today if all goes to plan, we are ready for flight. That is just astounding," added astronaut Randy Bresnik on NASA Television. 

Bresnik said he enjoyed counting to 11, as that's how many parachutes Orion put out before making it to the ground. Those 11 parachutes are sectioned into four sets. It's critical that those parachutes function, as Orion will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at 32 times the speed of sound.