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Constellation Program

How NASA practiced pulling Orion from sea

How NASA practiced pulling Orion from sea

You have built a multibillion-dollar spaceship that will one day take humans to asteroids and Mars. You have big plans to send it up 3,600 miles into orbit, or about 15 times farther than the International Space Station. Now comes the hard part: Recovering this major piece of equipment once it lands.

On Monday, NASA, along with a team from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy, boarded the USS Anchorage at San Diego Naval Base to take a practice run at recovering the Orion – the space agency’s latest achievement in deep-space exploration – from the sea.

The craft, a multipurpose crew vehicle that looks something like a giant triangular robot sent from space, is set to take its...