Tuesday was a good day for the future of human space flight. Out in Yuma, Ariz., an Orion capsule was taken up to 25,000 feet and dropped from a plane. One of its three main parachutes was rigged to not open.

The capsule landed safely, which is exactly what it was supposed to do.

The Orion is NASA's next-generation spacecraft and it is designed to go to the International Space Station at first, and eventually the moon and Mars.

The 21,000-pound capsule only requires two main parachutes and one drogue, but is outfitted with three and two, respectively, in case a problem should occur.

The main parachutes are 116 feet wide and the drogues are 23 feet wide.

The drogues are used to help slow the capsule soon after re-entry, then the larger chutes open and bring the spacecraft down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

Back in December, NASA engineers simulated a failure of one of the drogue parachutes. Orion passed that test, too.

Another parachute test is scheduled for May, but the big one will come in 2014 when an uncrewed Orion capsule will be flown 3,600 miles into space for the craft's first flight test.

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