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NASA's Orion Spacecraft Carrying Items From Purdue

nasa spacecraft

Purdue University memorabilia were sent into space Friday morning, when NASA successfully launched the Orion spacecraft into orbit.

Purdue University’s Library donated two pendants and photographs of Purdue astronauts,  including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, to put on the shuttle as a testament to the university’s pivotal role in the space program.

Since the first Gemini mission in 1965, 23 astronauts have graduated from Purdue and one third of all human space flights in history have had at least one Purdue alumni aboard.

Jennifer Merzdorf, a spokeswoman for Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says current Purdue students followed the mission closely.

“A mission like this really builds enthusiasm for the program, the space program and for the direction that it’s going," she says.

The unmanned flight lasted for four and a half hours, circling the earth twice before landing in the ocean.

Researchers tested the heat shield, and evaluated both launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, and attitude control.

The Orion Program aims to usher in a new age of exploration, focused on sending manned missions to Mars.

It’s a dream that Purdue graduate student Max Fagin is already a part of. He was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Mars One Mission, a Dutch private exploration program that hopes to send four astronauts on one-way trips to Mars by 2025.

Fagin says his education at Purdue was crucial in developing the skills he will need to survive on Mars if he is selected.

“Living in an environment where every new day is going to bring on a new challenge that no human has ever attempted before is incredibly exciting to me," Fagin says.

The aircraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:29 a.m and reached a height of 3,600 miles. NASA said the spacecraft flew further and faster than any capsule built for humans since the Apollo moon program.

Watch the Orion launch on the NASA video below:

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