Last updated at 12:44

Orion 'Mars ship' space capsule test flight successful

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Nasa put up a drone to watch Orion drop down into the Pacific Ocean

A rocket has launched in America, carrying a test version of the US space agency's new crew capsule, Orion.

The ship is designed eventually to take humans beyond the space station, to destinations such as the Moon and Mars.

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Watch the incredible rocket launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida

Orion's short flight today tested important technologies, like its heat shield and parachutes.

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Ricky explains what the Orion space capsule is for

It threw the conical ship to 6,000km above the surface of Earth, before the capsule has a fast re-entry into the atmosphere.

The craft 'splashed down' - returned to Earth - at 11:29 local time (4.29pm in the UK) on Friday afternoon. It landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.

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Professor of Astrophysics Tim O'Brien on whether we are a step closer to reaching Mars

No people were on board when it blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 07:05 local time (12:05pm in the UK).

The test flight had been planned for Thursday, but it was delayed due to high winds in the launch area.

Artist's impression of Orion space capsuleEPA/AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE
Artist's impression of the Orion space capsule in orbit

Orion is being developed alongside a super powerful new rocket that will be unveiled in 2017 or 2018.

Graphic showing Orion's first flight

A human mission to Mars is still probably around 20 years away.