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NASA launches test capsule over Yuma Proving Ground

Wednesday morning a C-17 military transport aircraft launched a NASA test capsule over Yuma Proving Ground.  Michelle Faust from member station KAWC in Yuma, Arizona was at the drop of the NASA Parachute Test Vehicle.

The capsule in this test is standing in for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that will be sent on manned missions fifteen times further than the International Space Station, to visit an asteroid and eventually Mars.

At 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert, this is the fifth of 18 airdrop tests of the parachutes used to land the Orion capsule safely back on earth.

NASA spokesman Josh Byerly says the number and frequency of the tests of the nylon and kevlar parachutes ensures the safety of the crew.

"They’ve got to be strong. They’ve got to be big. They’ve got to be robust. And it’s got to be a system that really does work, because that’s the last resort for the crew to have a safe landing," Byerly said.

Engineers will repair and reuse the test capsule and parachutes for future tests. NASA plans to send Orion on its first unmanned test flight in two years.