From 10,000 feet in the sky, NASA's aerial team will capture Orion's return from Moon missions
- United States
NASA's aerial team will watch and await the agency's Orion spacecraft as it returns to Earth from missions to the Moon (Artemis missions). The joint NASA and U.S. Navy Air Operations team will capture the images of the spacecraft from as close as possible - about 10,000 feet in the air, the agency said on Tuesday.
"Our primary objective is to get quality engineering imagery of Orion during descent and splashdown," said Don Reed, lead for the NASA Air Operations team.
Orion is NASA's new spaceship designed for deep-space missions - including to the vicinity of the Moon and Mars. The spacecraft will launch on the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built. The uncrewed Artemis I mission will be the first flight of the SLS rocket and Orion together.
According to the agency, to collect Orion's imagery, one team member operates a gyro-stabilized, ultra-high-definition 8K video camera system. A still photographer captures images from the back of the helicopter, and a Navy video system mounted on the nose does the same. The imagery the team collects will be recorded and analyzed after the mission, and will not be streamed or shared in real-time.
On the day of splashdown, the mission control team at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will assist the Air Operations team, letting them know if Orion is deviating from its planned trajectory. The team then sets up its aircraft position to find Orion when it is about 50,000 feet in the sky.
To prepare for air operations, NASA's aerial team runs practice flights, tracking aircraft flying out of San Diego International airport, and practices in the helicopter simulator at Naval Air Station North Island in California. More information can be found here.
The SLS rocket will send @NASA_Orion out of Earth's orbit, but what about its return? When Orion reenters Earth's atmosphere, a joint @NASA and U.S. Navy Air Operations team will watch in two helicopters capturing engineering imagery for analysis.MORE >> https://t.co/qpfBMx2RKI— NASA_SLS (@NASA_SLS) May 24, 2022