Jan 16, 2019 | Updated: 03:16 PM EST

Orion’s Return: What Re-entry Means for the Industry of Spaceflight

Dec 23, 2014 02:31 PM EST


On December 5, 2014 after a one-day weather delay, NASA launched Orion from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA's Orion is their newest spacecraft built with the mission of exploring deeper into space than ever before and the vision of evolving into a craft that will escort humans further into space than they've ever been and provide a safe return.

As planned, after four and half hours and two trips around the Earth, Orion returned to Earth landing in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles out from San Diego. U.S. naval forces deployed a well-rehearsed recovery plan. The retrieval, as described by NASA spokespersons, was flawless.  After a quick information download in San Diego, Orion was on its way back to Kennedy, where its findings and body would be further analyzed for more information on space and design improvements.

As stated in a NASA press release, Orion's first test flight is now in the books and considered a huge success, which means great things for both science and industry. NASA scientists take a look into space every day, but those of us on the other side of the closed doors still have plenty left to wonder. Some have already joined the waiting list of those ready and willing to take deep space vacation. Of all the spacecrafts that have come before, Orion is the one with the ability to get the job done. Its safe return confirms how close NASA is to making these dreams reality.

While this test flight was unmanned, Orion is built to hold a crew of 2- 6 individuals. It's no secret that NASA plans to send humans to an asteroid and to Mars using Orion. However, speculation of the spaceflight industry is just that. Those interviewed on the topic showed excitement about the success of the project but are focused on first things first.

"The flight itself was such a great success, but that's only the beginning of the story" Orion Program Manager, Mark Geyer says. "Now we get to dig in and really find out if our design performed like we thought it would. This is why we flew the flight. We demonstrated on Dec. 5 that Orion is a very capable vehicle. Now we're going to keep testing and improving as we begin building the next Orion," showing that there are many phases ahead of actually manning Orion.

NASA will be taking things one step at a time, running tests for Orion's many technologies and advancing its design. Eventually, we'll hear talk of astronauts getting their first ride inside Orion but for now we'll just follow its development and ooh and ahh at the information it brought back from deep space.

Orion is scheduled to take its next big test flight orbiting the moon, also unmanned, in 2018.Orion's safe return has certainly brought us a step closer to spaceflight, but the destination is still just a bit out of reach. 

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