Amy Johnson
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

J.D. Harrington/Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington

Josh Byerly
Johnson Space Center, Houston
RELEASE : 11-064
NASA Tests Future Deep Space Vehicle for Water Landings
HAMPTON, Va. -- 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.

Throughout the summer, NASA Langley will drop a 22,000-pound test article, which is built to be similar in size and shape to the Orion MPCV, but is more rigid so it withstands initial test impact conditions. The drop velocities will be different for each test and will represent the entry conditions of the Orion MPCV during a water landing.

Engineers will conduct the last of three water drop swing tests at the end of the month as part of a facility checkout. Testing of will resume in September with a slightly modified test article that will make it more representative of the actual flight vehicle.

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.

For images and video of the tests, visit:

To follow the progress of the Orion MPCV on social networking sites, visit:

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston manages the Orion MPCV program for the agency. For more information about the program, visit:

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