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Scientific American - 60-Second Space

NASA's newest spacecraft is bobbing in the Pacific Ocean after a four-hour test mission. Two Navy ships are on their way to recover NASA's Orion spacecraft after the capsule splashed down about 600 miles off the California coast.  Orion was launched aboard a Delta-Four rocket from Cape Canaveral and orbited the Earth twice before reentering the atmosphere on a flight that lasted more than four hours. 

This is NASA's first test of the Orion capsule that will one day take humans to an asteroid and on to Mars.  The mission is the first real-world test of the capsule's computer, heat shield, and parachute systems.  Orion should arrive in San Diego on Sunday aboard the USS Anchorage.  It will then be trucked to the Kennedy Space Center, where it should arrive before Christmas.  

Watch the launch of NASA's new Orion spacecraft

PHOTO: Getty Images