UPDATE: SPLASHDOWN!

NASA’s launch of the unmanned Orion capsule went off without a hitch this morning. Its mission? Showcasing its abilities to be NASA’s new manned spaceflight vehicle. Here’s a replay of the launch if you missed it.

Orion’s flight through space has been smooth. The capsule has completed its first orbit of Earth and has already ignited the single engine of the second stage. A 4 ½ minute burn pushes Orion to an area of space not touched by craft meant for manned spaceflight since the Apollo missions.

How does Earth look from some 3,000 miles above the planet? This beautiful image was snapped from the Orion capsule as it rocketed towards its peak altitude of 3,600 miles.

blue dot from orion

The Orion capsule is back on its way towards Earth after hitting a peak altitude of 3,604.2 miles. It’s now cruising back towards Earth at a brisk 20,000 mph. Recovery teams are in position to observe Orion’s splashdown, which is expected to hit the Pacific Ocean 600 miles west of Baja California.

The Orion capsule will go from a blistering 20,000 mph as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere to a gentle 20 mph as it touches down in the Pacific Ocean. Splashdown should be happening in the next hour or so. (I’ll update this post once it does)

Watch it happen live here.

Image credits: NASA

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