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Friday, 5 December 2014

First successful test flight for the US Orion capsule

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The US Orion capsule designed ultimately to transport astronauts to Mars, has successfully Friday first unmanned test flight around the Earth.

The ship was launched at dawn in Florida (12:05 GMT) by a Delta IV Heavy rocket, the biggest pitcher in the American fleet, from the base of the Air Force at Cape Canaveral.

Three hours later, the capsule reached a peak altitude of 5800 km above the Earth, as a prelude to the most delicate part of the flight, a dive into the atmosphere at 32,000 km / h.

Orion survived this fall designed to test its resilience in temperatures of 2,200 degrees (twice that of molten lava) and a gravity eight times stronger than on Earth.

A few minutes later, eleven chutes opened to slow the descent of the capsule, which landed smoothly at 4:29 p.m. GMT in the Pacific Ocean, at a speed of 32 km / h, a thousand miles south-west San Diego.

The test flight was primarily intended to test the strength of the heat shield, parachutes and Orion board electronics primarily manned flight.

"I think it's a great day for the people who know and love the space," said Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator.

The US space agency has been working for eight years on the Orion capsule, which survived the cancellation of a lunar exploration program called Constellation, even becoming the centerpiece of a new dream to convey astronauts up to March. The design of the heavy launcher was also changed.
NASA has spent more than $ 9 billion for Orion, who will perform a second unmanned flight in about four months.

A third mission, expected around 2021, will include two astronauts and send the capsule around the Moon.

Since the end of the Apollo lunar program in 1972, astronauts will fly more than a few hundred kilometers of the Earth, where turns orbiting International Space Station.

The Delta IV is designed and operated by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

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