How to watch NASA drop a test spacecraft into a million-gallon pool – CNET

NASA is performing a series of water drop tests on a test version of the Orion capsule.


NASA’s Artemis program is aiming to take astronauts back to the moon for the first time since the Apollo era. The space agency successfully fired up part of its big SLS rocket system in March. Now it’s going to drop a test version of the Orion spacecraft into a really big pool of water.

After a space voyage, Orion is made to splash down in the ocean with the help of parachutes. To make sure it’s safe for humans, NASA is collecting data on its performance through a series of water impact drop tests at the Langley Research Center in Virginia.

NASA TV will livestream the water drop, which should produce a satisfyingly big splash, at 10:45 a.m. PT on Tuesday, April 6.

The 14,000-pound (6,350-kilogram) test version of Orion mimics the one that will fly through space for a future crewed Artemis mission. The capsule will land in a million-gallon (3.8 million liter) pool of water called the Hydro Impact Basin. 

“The test data will help engineers better understand what Orion and its crew may experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean,” said NASA in a statement in March.

NASA has been eyeing an ambitious 2024 date for returning astronauts to the moon through the Artemis program. 

Before putting boots on the lunar surface, NASA plans to launch an uncrewed Artemis I mission as early as this year and then a crewed Artemis II mission around the moon as early as 2022. That would be the first opportunity for humans to experience an ocean splashdown in an Orion capsule. It should be quite a ride.

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