Dropping Orion Mockup Into A Test Pool To Determine Impact
As NASA closes the chapter on the Space Shuttle Program, a new
era of exploration vehicles is beginning to take off.
Testing began this month at NASA's Langley Research Center in
Hampton, VA, in the new Hydro Impact Basin to certify the Orion
Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for water landings. The Orion
MPCV will carry astronauts into space, provide emergency abort
capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure safe
re-entry and landing.
Engineers have dropped a 22,000-pound MPCV mockup into the
basin. The test item is similar in size and shape to MPCV, but is
more rigid so it can withstand multiple drops. Each test has a
different drop velocity to represent the MPCV's possible entry
conditions during water landings. The last of three drop tests to
verify the new facility is scheduled for the end of this month.
Testing will resume in September with a slightly modified test
article that is more representative of the actual MPCV.
The new Hydro Impact Basin is 115 long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet
deep. It is located at the west end of Langley's historic Landing
and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts
trained for moon walks.