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News

GSCSS News

Orion EFT-1 Flight Successful

Hans Culton

On December 5th, 2014, a human ship traveled farther into space than any ship had within the past 40 years; since the Apollo missions (not including probes).  The flight, lasting around four hours and 30 minutes was a complete success with every system functioning exactly as it should.  Re-entry happened exactly as predicted, and the Orion capsule splashdown was remarkably close to the predicted splashdown zone.  Only one stabilizing airbag did not inflate once the capsule had landed, and that was the only system that didn't function exactly as intended during the entire test.

A momentous occasion for the space industry, especially after the two incidents within the past couple months that received heavy criticism from the media (Virgin's Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and Orbital Sciences Antares Rocket).

Orion's first test flight was made possible by many different groups working in tandem.  The NASA rocket received the majority of assistance from Lockheed Martin, who were operators for a few different segments of the test yesterday.  Contrary to the first scheduled launch period (07:05 AM to 09:44 AM ET, Dec 4th), which was riddled with different issues spurring to life in the moment, Orion had liftoff at precisely 07:05 AM ET, Dec 5th.  From there continued the ease of the mission with each consequential phase occurring perfectly on time with no issues.  The Orion ran two orbits around the Earth launching from Florida and landing off the coast of Baja, California.

The next Orion test fight is scheduled to be a few years from now (around 2018), however, so it's important to take the excitement from this test flight and focus it on other projects and missions the space industry has planned between now and then in the meantime.  NASA's broadcast repeatedly announced how this launch ushered humanity into a new era of exploration and development, so let us not let those statements become untrue and continue forward with our pursuit of commercial space.