A test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes was tested the skies high above the U.S. Army’s Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz. The Orion spacecraft will replace the space shuttle as NASA’s vehicle for human space exploration and is designed to accommodate four to six astronauts on deep space missions.
This particular drop test that took place on Feb. 29, 2012, examined the wake — or the disturbance of the air flow behind Orion — that is caused by the spacecraft. It also could supplement commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is the heavy lift rocket that will carry the Orion spacecraft into space providing an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
Image Credit: NASA