(AP)—NASA's new Orion spacecraft has hit its intended high point of 3,600 miles above Earth, the farthest a spacecraft built for humans has traveled in four decades.
Now its dramatic trip back to the planet awaits.
The capsule reached peak altitude of 3,604 miles three hours after Friday morning's liftoff from Cape Canaveral on an unmanned test flight. It's the farthest a spacecraft designed for humans has flown since Apollo 17—NASA's final moon shot—flew 42 years ago.
NASA needed to send Orion that high in order to set the capsule up for a 20,000-mph, 4,000-degree entry over the Pacific. Engineers want to see how the heat shield holds up before putting humans on board.
© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.