2 hours and five minutes into flight, Orion is entering the lower Van Allen belt which contains intense levels of radiation. The cameras onboard Orion have been turned off to protect them. It will take 15 minutes to pass through this zone. The spacecraft will encounter it again on its way back to Earth in another hour-and-a-half.
“Everything going perfectly on the maiden flight of Orion,” reports NASA TV commentator Rob Navias.
T+2 hours – Second Stage Engine Cutoff Two has put Orion on its proper flight test path heading away from Earth before the altitude peaks and it begins coming back for re-entry. The second stage and service module will remain connected with Orion until the T+3 hour, 9 minute point of the mission.
The single engine of the second stage is firing now, using its 24,750 pounds of thrust to push Orion higher above Earth. This burn will last 4 minutes and 42 seconds and place Orion on a path through the Van Allen radiation belts and then back to Earth’s atmosphere at high speed.
Orion just finished its first orbit of the two it will make during this flight test. All systems go ahead of the second stage re-ignition in five minutes to push Orion to an altitude of about 3,630 miles.
Orbiting above Earth attached to the Delta IV second stage, Orion’s telemetry shows all systems working well on NASA’s newest spacecraft designed for astronauts. The next major stages in the flight test will begin with the re-ignition of the second stage engine. That 4 1/2-minute burn will send Orion out of low Earth orbit and on a path to fly 3,600 miles high before returning to Earth. The flight test is scheduled to end with Orion splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at about 11:29 a.m. EST.
The Orion spacecraft and attached second stage of the Delta IV Heavy are working as planned and the combination has been placed in a slow roll to keep temperatures balanced as Orion moves through orbit.
A camera aboard the Delta IV Heavy recorded the separation of the fairing panels over the Orion service module during the climb into orbit. The fairing provided structural support during the early phases of launch.
The second stage engine completed its first burn and Orion is in orbit now, on a path that is about 560 miles by 120 miles above Earth. There will be another burn by the Delta IV second stage to lift its orbit and then push it out 3,600 miles from Earth. For now, though, Orion begins a coast phase of about 97 minutes. The second stage will reignite at the 1 hour, 55 minute, 26 second point of the mission. The coast phase will allow flight controllers to continue evaluating telemetry coming down from the spacecraft and make sure Orion is healthy thus far in its mission.