The Orion capsule in the ocean Wednesday off Southern California. NASA photo

The amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage arrived at Naval Base San Diego on Friday after completing the successful third recovery test for NASA’s Orion space capsule program.

The Orion, which is designed to carry astronauts beyond Earth orbit, is scheduled to make an unmanned test flight aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December.

Another navy ship, the USNS Salvor, assisted in the test, lowering the capsule into the Pacific Ocean off Southern California while the Anchorage positioned itself to recover the module, accounting for sea state, winds, and other environmental factors.

Inflatable boats were then used to tow the Orion into the Anchorage’s well deck, from which landing craft are normally launched.

“We have a good understanding of the challenges we have ahead of us,” said Jeremy Graeber, NASA’s Recovery Director. “We demonstrated how we would recover from a certain point of the timeline, executed the recovery, and got the module into the well deck safely. We were focusing on putting ourselves into a realistic recovery.”

Sailors watch as the Orion is towed into the Anchorage’s well deck on Wednesday. NASA photo
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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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