On Thursday, August 15, NASA and the Navy’s United States Fleet Forces Command are giving a group of 30 social media followers an inside look at the Orion Stationary Recovery Test at NASA Langley Research Center and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
As the editor of SocialTimes, I’ve been following NASA ever since the Curiosity Rover got its own Twitter account.
Tomorrow I’ll be right in the splash zone (fingers crossed) when the team simulates the recovery of the Orion crew module — a spacecraft designed by Lockheed Martin to carry astronauts to deep space — as it lands in the Pacific Ocean.
Naturally, NASA engineers and Navy personnel want to test the vehicle before they send real people to far-off places like the Moon and Mars. The first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), will take place in the fall of 2014.
The NASA Social program is the government’s way of letting the public in on the process and inviting them to share what they learn with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Tomorrow’s simulation will test how well Orion can handle itself after shooting 3,600 miles into the air, sans crew, and returning to Earth at a rate of 20,000 miles per hour for a water landing and recovery.
Is it even possible to Vine or Instagram something like that? I have no idea. But expect plenty of pictures of the Navy’s recovery ship, the Hydro Impact Basin, and NASA Langley’s National Transonic Facility, all of which are part of the tour, as I cover the event live from Virginia.