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NASA to test Orion spacecraft parachute system in Arizona

(NASA Photo)

PHOENIX — A day after President Donald Trump said he was sending astronauts back to the moon, a NASA team was in Yuma on Tuesday preparing to test the parachutes of the mission’s spacecraft.

The test was scheduled for Wednesday at Yuma Proving Ground. It will be the fifth in a series of eight drop tests of the chutes at U.S. Army facility in southwestern Arizona site.

Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 on Monday, to “refocus American’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” he said.

The team from Johnson Space Center in Houston planned to once again release a model of the Orion from a C-17 transports aircraft at 35,000 feet above the ground. The system was tested in September.

NASA needs the parachutes to reduce the spacecraft’s speed from 300 to 20 mph in less than 10 minutes to ensure safe re-entry and splashdown.

Engineers will evaluate a simulated scenario in which one of the three main parachutes fails to open after the deployment of several other parachutes that help slow and stabilize the spacecraft, the agency said in a press release.

The foam models match the dimensions and weight of the actual Orion.

The Orion spacecraft was expected to carry astronauts deeper into space than anyone has ever gone before.

NASA Test Manager Carol Evan said each test costs $1 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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