Navy suspends testing on space capsule

SAN DIEGO — A training exercise designed to showcase the government’s ability to recover a space capsule at sea was scrubbed after NASA ran into trouble off the California coast, the space agency said Friday. Crews had difficulty tying down a mock-up of the Orion capsule aboard an amphibious warship off the shores of San Diego.

NASA said cables attached to the capsule weren’t strong enough to handle turbulence and snapped off twice while it was in the well deck of the USS San Diego before it could be moved out to sea on Thursday.

With the Orion mock-up still on the Navy ship, teams could not practice fetching the spacecraft from the ocean.

“Even though the testing didn’t go as we had planned, we’re learning lessons that will help us be better prepared to retrieve Orion,” said Bill Hill of NASA headquarters.

Engineers were troubleshooting the problem, and it was not clear when the test would be rescheduled.

NASA has been developing a next-generation spacecraft to carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit, possibly to an asteroid or Mars. Orion, which will make its first unmanned test flight this fall, is being designed to travel to deep space and return at speeds of 25,000 mph by splashing down into the Pacific.

The water landing is a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s when Navy ships routinely tracked and recovered Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft after re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

With the space shuttle fleet retired, NASA has decided to go with an ocean splashdown. Unlike in the past, when helicopters would hoist astronauts after a mission, the new plan calls for an amphibious transport ship to dispatch divers and small boat teams to recover Orion and its crew.

Last year, NASA and the Navy practiced recovering the Orion in the calm waters of the Elizabeth River in Virginia with no problem.

Before the latest test was called off, NASA said crews successfully retrieved parts of the spacecraft, including the parachute and a protective covering. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was supposed to visit the test site today, but his appearance was canceled.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

John Miller, congressman, author activist, has died

He was known for his dedication to the marine industry, energy and human rights.

Church takes a quiet, contemplative approach to worship

Alternative services at First Congregational Church of Maltby offer “a good deal of silence.”

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Snohomish County hosts its annual Focus on Farming conference

The event features a trade show as well as talks on agriculture, jam-making and more.

Supportive housing for man accused in attacking his mother

Mental state impaired man’s ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, judge rules.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Search on for mildly autistic boy in Lynnwood

Six-year-old was last seen in his home around 2:30 p.m. Monday.

‘Horrific’ child-porn case: Former Arlington man sentenced

Raymond Devore, arrested in 2015, had a cache of disturbing photos and video on his cellphone.

Most Read