NASA has released an animated clip depicting the proposed 2014 test flight of its Orion spacecraft.
After being launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the ship will perform two orbits – reaching an altitude higher than any achieved by a spacecraft intended for human use since 1973.
Subsequently, Orion will re-enter and land in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the United States.
“The entry part of the test will produce data needed to develop a spacecraft capable of surviving speeds greater than 20,000 mph and safely return astronauts from beyond Earth orbit,” explained Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier.
“This test is very important to the detailed design process in terms of the data we expect to receive.”
NASA is currently developing the Orion spacecraft to transport astronauts to asteroids, the moon, Mars and other destinations atop SLS, the agency’s new heavy launch vehicle.