The NASA Orion spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean on Friday after its successful inaugural flight. The unmanned spacecraft is part of NASA’s efforts to eventually send crewed missions to Mars. Watch the splashdown above, in a video captured by a NASA drone.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on NASA TV that he would describe it as “the beginning of the Mars era.”
The spacecraft launched on Friday after the planned Thursday launch time was delayed by weather and engine issues.
The flight, which was four and a half hours long, and cost $370 million, was managed by NASA’s commercial partner Lockheed Martin.
The video of the launch released by NASA (below) shows the spacecraft lifting off from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It then switches to the on-board “rocket cams” once the spacecraft is airborne.
The flight marked the furthest an object designed to carry humans has been in orbit since the Apollo 17 launch in 1972. It reached a distance of 3,600 miles above the Earth.