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John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026/9000

October 10, 2006
NASA Ames Tests Small Spaceship Capsule Model at High Speed
NASA is conducting high-speed tests of small models of the agency’s new Orion crew exploration vehicle to learn about its stability during flight.

News media are invited to view the Hypervelocity Free-Flight Facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center located in California’s Silicon Valley, on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. PDT. Reporters also may attend a test firing that will achieve a speed of about Mach 1, or 800 miles per hour (1,280 kilometers per hour.)

The hypervelocity test facility uses a gun to shoot Orion models between 0.5 and 1.5 inches (1.25-3.75 centimeters) in diameter. The facility can conduct experiments with speeds up to 19,000 miles per hour (30,400 kilometers per hour).

These tests allow engineers to analyze aerodynamic characteristics of the blunt capsules in flight, and will be used to help design safe, controllable profiles for re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere.

The Orion spacecraft will succeed the space shuttle as NASA’s vehicle for human space exploration. Orion is designed to carry six astronauts to low-Earth orbit or four astronauts to the moon. Orion’s first crewed flight to the International Space Station is planned for no later than 2014. Orion’s first flight to the moon is planned for no later than 2020.

WHAT: Opportunity to view a small, simple Orion capsule model and the NASA Ames Hypervelocity Free-Flight Facility, and interview researchers.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006, from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. PDT.

WHO: Test conductor Jeff Brown, principal investigator, and other researchers.

WHERE: NASA Ames Research Center’s Hypervelocity Free-Flight Facility, Bldg. N237. News media representatives who wish to attend the Orion test exhibition should report by 10 a.m. PDT, Oct. 12, 2006, to Ames’ Visitor Badging Office, located at the Ames main gate.

To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit off Highway 101 and drive east to the main gate and Visitor Badging Office. Maps to the free-flight complex will be provided.

For further information about Ames’ hypervelocity free-flight tests please visit:

For more information about the Orion crew capsule, please visit:

More information about NASA can be found at:


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