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Watch This Hauntingly Beautiful Footage From Orion’s Fiery Return to Earth


On December 5, 2014, at 7:05 a.m. EST, an enormous Delta IV Heavy roared into the sky from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, sending a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft on a “flawless” four-and-a-half hour, two-orbit voyage which took it 3,604 miles away from Earth – farther than any spacecraft designed for human occupants has ventured since Apollo 17. (Read my personal account of that historic event here.) Later that same day Orion returned to Earth, reentering the atmosphere and splashing down in the Pacific off the southern tip of Baja California where U.S. Navy ships and recovery divers were waiting. The event was broadcast live as seen by surveillance aircraft, but today NASA has shared HD video captured from the spacecraft itself: a hauntingly beautiful rear-view mirror look at Orion’s “trial by fire” reentry, parachute descent, and splashdown.

A look back through Orion's reentry plasma trail (NASA)

A look back through Orion’s reentry plasma trail (NASA)

It’s ten minutes and fifteen seconds that you will certainly not want to miss. Check it out above.

“The video begins 10 minutes before Orion’s 11:29 a.m. EST splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, just as the spacecraft was beginning to experience Earth’s atmosphere. Peak heating from the friction caused by the atmosphere rubbing against Orion’s heat shield comes less than two minutes later, and the footage shows the plasma created by the interaction change from white to yellow to lavender to magenta as the temperature increases. The video goes on to show the deployment of Orion’s parachutes and the final splash as it touches down.”

Learn more about the Orion spacecraft and mission here.

Video credit: NASA

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on December 19, 2014, in Spaceflight and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Excellent film. And a great end to your year of very stimulating posts. Many thank yous.

    Like

  2. Now we are talking! This is hot! Literally!

    Like

  3. Awesome footage !!
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Allgemeines Live-Blog ab dem 18. Dez. 2014 | Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

  2. Pingback: RT @JPMajor: Here’s a video from inside @NASA_Orio… : Nightskyonline.info

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