Nasa completes Orion vertical drop tests

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NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, has completed a series of four vertical drop tests with a test version of the Orion capsule.

Two crash-test dummies (as used in automotive testing) wearing modified advanced crew escape system suits were secured in the full-scale Orion capsule. Each dummy was equipped with internal sensors to assist engineers to quantify the potential for injury to the crew when Orion re-enters Earth’s atmosphere.

After securing the dummies inside the test capsule, NASA engineers dropped the capsule into Langley Research Center’s 20ft-deep hydro impact basin to simulate the splashdown in the ocean after space missions. During re-entry, Orion will descend under its three main parachutes, but the moment the capsule meets water, astronauts will experience tremendous forces.

The drop tests were designed to account for a range of wind and wave conditions that might exist when the capsule and its human occupants return from deep-space missions.

NASA engineers will conduct five more rigorous swing tests of the capsule with the fully suited dummies over the next few months.

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