Lasting four and half hours, the mission allowed NASA to test the capsule’s control functions and take it through re-entry and landing.
NASA has commissioned Lockheed Martin Space Systems to design and build the Orion space capsule to accommodate a minimum of four astronauts for crewed missions to the Moon and asteroids. Orion is also designed for (uncrewed) missions into the farthest reaches of space. ESA has commissioned Airbus Defence and Space to develop the propulsion system as well as the spacecraft’s energy supply and key elements of the life support system. These systems are parts of the service module, the design of which is based on Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.
The first Orion mission with European participation, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), will be an uncrewed flight with return to Earth and is scheduled for 2018.