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Saturday, December 20, 2014

NASA's Orion Capsule - This is What it's Like to Reenter the Earth's Atmosphere: (Video)

Contours of turbulence intensity and isosurfaces of mean vorticity from a simulation of flow past a wind tunnel model of the Orion crew module during reentry at Mach 0.5.  Image credit: Paul Stremel, Matthew McMullen, NASA/Ames
As reported by Discovery NewsIn a mesmerizing new video released by NASA, the full reentry of the Orion test space vehicle is chronicled — and it’s a phenomenal 10-minute ride from fiery reentry to sudden splashdown into the Pacific Ocean, all put to dreamy space music.

On Dec. 5, Orion was blasted into space by a Delta 4 Heavy rocket in the first space worthiness test of the US space agency’s next-generation space vehicle. The successful test flight was intended to imitate the full force of slamming into the Earth’s atmosphere at velocities close to the speed a spacecraft would be traveling if it was on a return trajectory from a deep space origin.
The unmanned Orion test vehicle was sent on an elliptical orbit around the Earth, traveling a maximum distance of 3,604 miles from Earth, far beyond the orbit of the International Space Station. The manned version of Orion will will eventually be tasked with transporting astronauts to destinations beyond Earth orbit — an altitude an astronaut hasn’t traveled beyond since the Apollo era and the 1960′s and 70′s — to asteroids and, potentially, Mars.
So for now, we have this stunning video that gives us a capsule-eye view of reentry. For reference, the camera is looking ‘up’ from behind the capsule, so as Orion’s lager heat shield bears the brunt of atmospheric heating as it reenters through the stratosphere, we’re looking along the ionization trail of this man-made meteor as it dashes through the sky.