Artist’s illustration of the EFT-1 Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPVC) on orbit. The mission is expected to take place atop a Delta-IV Heavy rocket in 2014. Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s official EFT-1 mission patch signifies the mission’s nature as the first human-capable vehicle since the end of the Apollo era to attempt a high-energy re-entry at lunar-return velocities. Image Credit: NASA

Drogue Chute Test Brings EFT-1 Launch One Step Closer

By Ben Evans

In less than two years’ time, NASA intends to loft its first unmanned Orion spacecraft on the long-awaited Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission atop United Launch Alliance’s gigantic Delta IV Heavy booster. The mission, which will rise to a maximum altitude of 3,600 miles—the highest a human-capable vehicle has flown since the end of the Apollo era—will serve to wring out many of Orion’s systems in readiness for its first Exploration Mission in late 2017. NASA took one step toward the EFT-1 goal yesterday (Thursday), by completing the latest in a series of parachute drop tests of a mock-up vehicle at the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The test confirmed that Orion could land safely even if one of its two parachutes failed to open during the critical final stages of descent.

Read more: Drogue Chute Test Brings EFT-1 Launch One Step Closer « AmericaSpace.

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