NASA successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle’s entry, descent and landing parachutes in preparation for the vehicle’s first orbital flight test, currently scheduled for 2014. Orion is the crew vehicle that NASA is building to bring astronauts to new destinations in space. It will be launched on the new rocket being built, the Space Launch System. Unlike the space shuttle, Orion will have emergency abort capability, and won’t be landing on a runway. Instead, the vehicle will splash down in the ocean, like the US capsules in the 1960’s and 70’s. NASA is working to make sure the crews will have a safe re-entry and landing, and the parachute tests help to ensure that.
On February 29, 2012, a test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes was tested high above the skies over the U.S. Army’s Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona. This particular drop test examined the wake – or the disturbance of the air flow behind Orion – that is caused by the spacecraft.
This video is narrated by Chris Johnson, project manager of the Orion Capsule Parachute Assembly Project.