WASHINGTON — A full-scale mockup of NASA’s Orion crew module is being tested in water under simulated and real landing weather conditions. Beginning March 23, a Navy-built, 18,000-pound Orion mockup will be placed in a test pool at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Md. Ocean testing will begin April 6 off the coast of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The goal of the operation, dubbed the Post-landing Orion Recovery Test, or PORT, is to determine what kind of motions the astronaut crew can expect after landing, as well as conditions outside for the recovery team. The experience will help NASA design landing recovery operations including equipment, ship and crew necessities.

The Carderock facility provides a controlled environment for crew recovery personnel to familiarize themselves with the Orion capsule before the team tests procedures in the uncontrolled waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

For the ocean testing, the team will use a space shuttle solid rocket booster recovery ship to take the mockup out to sea, going further into rougher conditions each day. A media opportunity to view testing visible from shore will be scheduled for April 7 at Kennedy.

During the Orion mockup’s transportation from Maryland to Florida, it will make stops for public viewing. Designated opportunities are March 30 in front of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington and April 3 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

NASA’s Constellation Program, which includes the Orion crew vehicle and the Ares I rocket that will launch it, is America’s next-generation human spaceflight system that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station, back to the moon and to destinations beyond.

The Constellation Program’s Operations and Test Integration Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is leading the PORT effort. Development of Orion and associated Constellation Program elements is a joint effort involving every NASA center and partners across the country. Results of these tests will influence Orion vehicle design at Johnson and recovery hardware designs under evaluation at Kennedy.

For more information about NASA’s Orion crew vehicle, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion

For more information about NASA’s Constellation Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/constellation