The Orion capsule landed upright on its base in a position called Stable 1 and remains in Stable 1 as it floats on the Pacific’s surface. The spacecraft’s systems performed perfectly throughout the mission including two passes through the Van Allen radiation belts and the heat of re-entry.
A U.S. Navy H-60 helicopter is flying out to Orion as the recovery process begins for the first Orion flight test.
Orion is bobbing on the surface of the Pacific Ocean now and a pair of U.S. Navy ships are moving in to retrieve it. 11:29 CST.
Orion is falling gently toward the Pacific Ocean surface under three parachutes that combined would cover a football field.
Orion made it through re-entry! The protective cover over the parachutes at the top of the spacecraft has jettisoned so now the parachutes can begin their deployment to slow Orion for splashdown. The cover will be lowered to ocean on small parachutes of its own and retrieved. Drogues deployed.
Orion is sending back signals and video now as it slows going through the atmosphere.
Plasma of 4,000 degrees F is enveloping Orion’s crew module now and signals from the spacecraft cannot get through it. The base heat shield will bear the brunt of the heat, but the backshell of the capsule will see high temperatures too. That’s why it’s been covered with black tiles like those used on the space shuttle. This blackout is expected to last about 2 1/2 minutes.
T+4 hours, 13 minutes – Orion is flying now with its base heat shield facing Earth as it encounters the first areas of the discernable atmosphere around the planet and the temperature around the spacecraft begins to build up. The spacecraft is coming in at 20,000 mph and will be slowed considerably. With help of parachutes later, Orion will splash down at about 20 mph, having made the 75-mile fall to the ocean surface in 11 minutes.
The crew module completed its flight through the lower Van Allen belt and is about to begin re-entry into the atmosphere. Orion is less than 400 miles above Earth. Eight minutes to entry interface to begin re-entry. Splashdown is targeted for 275 miles off the coast of Baja California, some 600 miles south of San Diego.