NASA nears the end of its splashdown tests for Mars craft

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — NASA has conducted the second to last splashdown test for its Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to eventually send humans to Mars. Scientists at NASA's Langley facility on Thursday used a pendulum and explosives to fling a test capsule into a pool of water at about 25...

Mnet 86446 Nasa Orion Splashdown Test Ap Tn
 
              A mockup of NASA's Orion spacecraft, a deep space vessel that is slated to eventually travel to Mars, hits the water in a simulated ocean splashdown test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. An unmanned test flight is scheduled for 2018 with the first crewed flight is slated for 2023.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — NASA has conducted the second to last splashdown test for its Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to eventually send humans to Mars.

Scientists at NASA's Langley facility on Thursday used a pendulum and explosives to fling a test capsule into a pool of water at about 25 mph. The 11-foot craft disappeared behind a bowl-shaped splash before bouncing buoyantly against safety netting.

More than 500 instruments gauged aspects of the impact, including the level of strain on the carbon fiber heatshield and aluminum cabin. Crash test dummies were also inside to measure safety designs.

Orion sailed through its first unmanned test flight in 2014, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. Another unmanned launch is scheduled for 2018. The agency hopes Orion will carry astronauts into space by 2023.

More