Excitement for NASA's Orion spacecraft brings hundreds for launch

'This is just part of history,' spectator says

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Cheers erupted in Jetty Park early Tuesday as hundreds gathered to witness the critical abort test of NASA's Orion spacecraft.

The launch brought large crowds to the popular viewing spot, where spectators were able to witness both the liftoff and splash down of the capsule after the test.

Hope Hefner traveled with her family from Georgia to witness the crucial step for the spacecraft.

"This is just part of history," Hefner said. "It's really cool how they're preparing already for five years from now."

NASA is planning on sending American men and women to the moon by 2024 under a program named Artemis.

The agency plans to use the Orion capsule, which is also intended to carry astronauts to Mars and other deep-space missions.

"We've never sent people past the moon," Hefner said. "So, to even think about sending people to Mars would be just mind-blowing."

Ryan Dardar is a lead analyst at his New Orleans company, which works on the Orion capsule. He brought his family Tuesday to see some of his work in action.

"As far as we could tell, from what we saw, everything looked really, really good," Dardar said.

Shortly after the launch, Orion program manager Mark Kirasich said a team began the process of analyzing the data in the abort system test. The performance appeared successful to everyone watching on the ground.  

"There's a lot on our horizon for us to go and experience and explore," Dardar said. "It's just one of those tests here to make sure we can push the envelope and keep people safe at the same time."

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