If you’ve ever thought about going to space, but no experience as an astronaut, the opportunity could be on the horizon. One of NASA’s next missions is to launch the Orion space capsule which will be taking off on December 4th. NASA hopes to eventually take humans on it in the near future. For this unmanned test flight, the aircraft will go about 3,600 feet from the Earth and enter temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with the launch of the Orion space capsule, it will travel alongside two navy planes, a drone, and a helicopter.
The spacecraft is expected to travel about 22,000 miles per hour. It is equipped with a long range infrared optical system used to take photos. The goal is to capture thermal images during the re-entry point of the mission. When it does re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, the aircraft will try to hit a point that is 25 miles away from where it is expected to land. This will be a tough job to get done. When it does re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists expect it to produce enough heat to activate the cameras to start capturing the data and images.
If the right data and images are captured, the team can find out just how high temperatures get when the craft enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Knowing this, can help protect future aircrafts from being damaged due to the high temperatures. Accompanying the aircraft back to its entry point will be the Ikhana drone. Its job will be to video the entry and landing to gather even more data and will be aired live on the Pacific coast. Also along for the ride will be another plane that will be capturing images of the landing equipment. This is solely to document the parachutes and how they handle the aircraft.