Orion's First Mission

Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) was the first step in NASA’s bold new mission to design and build the capability to extend human existence to deep space.


Photo: NASA

About EFT-1

Orion blazed into the morning sky at 7:05 a.m. EST, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The uncrewed Orion splashed down approximately 4.5 hours later in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles southwest of San Diego.

Flight test highlights:

  • Orion traveled twice through the Van Allen belt, experiencing high periods of radiation
  • Reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth (15 times farther than the International Space Station and farther than any spacecraft built for humans has traveled in more than 40 years)
  • Hit speeds of 20,000 mph during re-entry
  • Weathered temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit during re-entry into the atmosphere
  • Engineers tested many systems critical to the safety of future astronauts who will fly on Orion, including the spacecraft’s heat shield, avionics, parachutes, computers and key spacecraft separation events