NASA's Orion Space Capsule Sails at Sunset in This Awesome Video

Need a virtual vacation? NASA has you covered, thanks to a well-timed test procedure for its Orion crew capsule.

The stunning footage was captured on Nov. 1 using a camera mounted on a drone. It shows the USS John P. Murtha, which is equipped with a well deck that floods, allowing teams to float a test version of NASA's Orion capsule in and out of the deck. You can see more spectacular views in this photo gallery.

A sunset shot of the USS John P. Murtha during recovery test procedures for NASA's Orion crew capsule, seen to the right. (Image credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

That's why NASA and the U.S. Navy borrowed the ship for a multi-day mission to the Pacific Ocean in late October and early November. NASA needed to test the procedures involved in bringing in a capsule after landing.

During the test procedures, NASA personnel, contract staff and Navy divers practiced rowing out to the capsule, encircling it with an inflatable collar and towing it back to the ship.

At night on Nov. 1, 2018, a test version of NASA's Orion space capsule is pulled into the well deck of the USS John P. Murtha during a recovery operations test in the Pacific Ocean. (Image credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA)


They also practiced fetching astronauts. When the Orion module lands after a real mission, astronauts will be given the choice of remaining in the capsule until it has been brought in or exiting via an inflatable "front porch" and traveling to the main ship in a small boat.

A sunset shot of the USS John P. Murtha during recovery test procedures for NASA's Orion crew capsule. (Image credit: Tony Gray/NASA)

NASA has plenty of time to hone its recovery procedures — the agency isn't planning to fly humans on the modules until 2023. That voyage has to wait until the capsule's rocket, the Space Launch System, is ready to fly. Uncrewed tests of the pair of vehicles are scheduled to begin in 2020, according to the agency.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us @Spacedotcom and Facebook. Original article on

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.