Footage released of Nasa's Orion as it plummets to Earth

Nasa has released a video of the final moments of the test flight

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Nasa has released stunning footage of its Orion spacecraft breaking through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The video shows the final 10 minutes of the craft’s 4-and-a-half hour debut flight, as it plunges towards the Earth’s surface.



Orion dropped into the Pacific Ocean on 5 December after it had flown 3,600 miles around the world on its flawless unmanned flight.

It experienced heat of up to 2,200 degrees Celsius and achieved speeds of 20,000 mph.

Plasma around the craft is so hot that it appears purple in the video.

Towards the end of the footage viewers are able to see the parachutes that are deployed to slow the craft down to 20 mph as it descends to Earth.

It is planned that Orion will take humans to space on future missions and will provide emergency abort capabilities and be able to sustain crews during space travel to Mars.

This debut flight tested the launch and entry systems of the craft, such as parachutes and the heat shield.

Orion was retrieved by a joint Nasa, US Navy and Lockheed Martin team, which carried the craft back to shore on the navy's USS Anchorage. It was then driven to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Images from the video are the same as those that future astronauts will see when they return from missions in space.