It looks like the grainy splashdowns in the Pacific from the Apollo missions will be replaced soon. The Navy has conducted drills in the Pacific Ocean to retrieve the Orion capsule.

During the first part of August, the U.S. Navy and NASA practiced the recovery a few hundred miles off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. This is the second round of practice retrievals, gearing up for an actual recovery December 4 of this year. The capsule will hit an altitude of 3,600 miles, and then splashdown in the same location the Navy is conducting drills.

This splashdown, coupled with an orbit of the moon will be unmanned, but it is all part of a larger mission to put man back into space. First stop will be the moon, and eventually manned missions to Mars.

Instead of the Apollo and Gemini method of using helicopters to grab the capsule, the Orion capsule gets the full valet treatment. It will be towed up a ramp into the stern of a U.S. Naval vessel.

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