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NASA drops replica Orion spacecraft in Arizona desert to test parachutes

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YUMA, Ariz. — NASA says it successfully tested the Orion spacecraft’s parachutes by dropping a replica from an Air Force transport aircraft over a desert test site in southwestern Arizona.

The Friday morning test used two of Orion’s three main parachutes to simulate the failure of the third and still sufficiently slow the spacecraft for a landing.

NASA systems engineer Jim McMichael says the test “went really well.”

McMichael says 10-ton replica was “sitting perfectly upright” after bouncing once when it landed at the Yuma Proving Ground, an Army installation.

Previous test attempts were thwarted by a failure of the C-17 plane’s cargo doors to open at the drop altitude of 35,000 feet on Wednesday and by high winds on Thursday.

Actual Orion landings will involve ocean splashdowns.

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