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NASA's Orion capsule makes safe return to Earth

NASA’s Orion capsule made a blisteringly fast return from the moon on December 11, parachuting into the Pacific off Mexico to conclude a test flight that should clear the way for astronauts on the next lunar flyby. The incoming capsule hit the atmosphere at Mach 32, or 32 times the speed of sound, and endured reentry temperatures of 5,000°F (2,760°C) before splashing down west of Baja California near Guadalupe Island. A Navy ship quickly moved in to recover the spacecraft and its silent occupants — three test dummies rigged with vibration sensors and radiation monitors. NASA hailed the descent and splashdown as spectacular and close to perfect. “I’m overwhelmed,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said from Mission Control in Houston. “This is an extraordinary day. It’s historic because we are now going back into space — deep space — with a new generation", he added. The space agency needed a successful splashdown to stay on track for the next Orion flight around the moon, currently targeted for 2024. Four astronauts will make the trip.

NASAs Orion capsule makes safe return to Earth

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