On December 05, 2014 at 16:28 UTC the “Orion” capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 275 miles off the coast of Baja California and some 630 miles south of San Diego. The mission involved Orion making two orbits of the planet during a four and a half hour mission that ended with the spacecraft’s recovery in the Pacific Ocean. Reaching a maximum altitude of 5,790 kilometres the mission tested separation mechanisms, demonstrated Orion’s Crew Module in orbit and proved that the spacecraft can withstand atmospheric reentry and be recovered successfully.
Over three years after Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at the end of STS-135, The launch was a major milestone for NASA as it works to reestablish America’s manned space program.
Orion is designed to carry up to four astronauts into space and return them safely to Earth. When operational it will ride NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) into orbit.
On December 05, 2014 at 12:05 UTC the new “Orion” unmanned spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral launch site of US Air Force. The launch was performed by United Launch Alliance supported by the 45th Space Wing of US Air Force. The “Orion” EFT-1 (Exploration Flight Test 1) spacecraft was orbited by the “Delta-4 Heavy” rocket-carrier. For the first time since 1981 NASA test flew a new vehicle designed to carry astronauts into space.
The “Orion” space capsule, designed by Lockheed Martin, is seen as the first step in America’s plans to put people on Mars by the mid-2030s.
On December 03, 2014 at 04:22 UTC the H-2A/202 rocket-carrier was launched from Tanegashima Space Center, an island spaceport in southern Japan. The rocket orbited the “Hayabusa-2” probe on the first leg of its journey to the asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3. This six-year expedition is to bring a piece of an asteroid back to Earth. The launch marked the opening chapter in the most ambitious mission to an asteroid ever attempted. The roundtrip journey will take six years to complete, and the “Hayabusa-2” promises to expand scientists’ understanding of how asteroids may have seeded Earth with water and organic molecules, the building blocks of life. The spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in June 2018.
The H-2A/202 rocket-carrier also orbited 3 more satellites: PROCYON (Proximate Object Close flyby with Optical Navigation); ARTSAT: Art and Satellite Project; Shin'en 2.
On November 30, 2014 at 21:52 UTC the “Soyuz-2.1b” rocket-carrier was launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Arkhangelsk region, North Russia. The launch was performed by Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. The rocket equipped with the “Fregat” (Frigate) booster orbited “Glonass-K” navigation satellite.