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Nasa's new hope Orion makes perfect flight and return

By Staff Reporter

Nasa's new Orion spacecraft made a "bullseye" splashdown in the Pacific following a dramatic test flight.

The brief journey took it to a height of 3,600 miles and ushered in a new era of human exploration aiming for Mars.

The unmanned test flight ended just four hours and 30 minutes after it began and achieved at least one record - flying farther and faster than any capsule built for humans since the Apollo Moon programme.

Nasa is counting on future Orions to carry astronauts beyond Earth's orbit, to asteroids and ultimately the grand prize of Mars.

"There's your new spacecraft, America," Mission Control commentator Rob Navias said as the Orion capsule neared the water.

Mr Navias called the four-hour, 24-minute journey "the most perfect flight you could ever imagine".

Nasa said the capsule's computers were not affected by high radiation, one of the key questions they hoped to answer with the test.

Orion's return was captured by an unmanned drone flying over the recovery zone, providing spectacular views of the descending capsule.

Helicopters then relayed images of the crew module bobbing in the water. Three of the five air bags deployed properly, enough to keep the capsule floating upright.

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