Sasha Congiu
Media Invited to Orion Spacecraft Vertical Drop Test
Additional preparations are necessary for the vertical drop test; therefore, the test has been moved to Friday, Sept. 7.

This release has been revised to reflect the change of date.
HAMPTON, Va. -- Members of the media are invited to attend a water impact test of an 18,000-pound (8,165 kilograms) test version of the Orion spacecraft at NASA's Langley Research Center's Hydro Impact Basin on Friday, Sept. 7.

Orion will be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed and carry astronauts farther into space than ever before. It will sustain astronauts during space travel, provide safe re-entry from deep space and provide emergency abort capability.

Orion will be dropped from a height of 25 feet (7.62 meters), continuing a series of tests that analyze how the spacecraft will return from exploration missions and land in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA previously conducted a series of swing tests at the basin, which confirmed Orion could enter the water at various horizontal angles. Results from these vertical drop tests will help NASA's engineers further predict the spacecraft's behavior.

Journalists must arrive by 10:30 a.m. EDT at the NASA Langley main gate. Due to the nature of the testing, an exact drop time cannot be given. Journalists also will have the opportunity to interview subject matter experts. If the drop test date changes due to weather or technical reasons, NASA will issue an advisory to alert journalists of the change.

Orion will fly its first test flight, Exploration Flight Test 1, in 2014. During the test, the spacecraft will travel more than 3,600 miles (approx. 5,800 kilometers) into space -- 15 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station -- and reach speeds of more than 20,000 mph (approx. 32,000 kph) before returning to Earth. This unmanned test flight will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is designed to test several Orion systems, including the heat shield and parachutes at speeds generated during a return from deep space.

In 2017, Orion will be launched by NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), a heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS will enable new missions of exploration and expand human presence across the solar system.

NASA Langley's Hydro Impact Basin is 115 feet long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet deep (38.1 x 27.4 x 6.1 meters), and is located at Langley's historic Landing and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts trained for moonwalks.

To ensure access and badging, reporters must contact Sasha Congiu by phone at 757-272-9859, or by email at, by 8 a.m. Friday.

For video and still imagery documenting the ground breaking of the Hydro Impact Basin all the way through various stages of the Orion testing, visit:

For more information on Orion, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

NASA news releases are available automatically by sending an e-mail message to with the word "subscribe" in the subject line. You will receive an e-mail asking you to visit a link to confirm the action. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line.


- end -

text-only version of this release