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Astronauts Train On Mock-Up NASA Capsule In Gulf Of Mexico

GALVESTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — NASA astronauts have been practicing in-the-water exit maneuvers from a mock-up Orion space capsule bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas.

Several astronauts trained Thursday in the open water about 4 miles off Galveston for a possible mission to Mars.

An Orion spacecraft is being prepared, at Johnson Space Center in nearby Houston, for flight atop NASA's as-yet-unflown megarocket, the SLS or Space Launch System. The training was in case a real space capsule has to make a splashdown.

NASA Orion Testing
NASA is using the waters off the coast of Galveston to evaluate procedures being developed to get astronauts out of Orion after deep-space missions. (credit: NASA)

Officials say the practice session included the astronauts, wearing bright orange training uniforms, jumping into the water and using flotation devices. Astronauts also deployed a life raft. The practice is to hopefully help astronauts get out of the Orion spacecraft safely once back on Earth.

"Astronauts returning to Earth in Orion will have spent many days in space, and we want to make sure the last part of their journey goes smoothly no matter what kind of conditions they land in," said Tom Walker, rescue and recovery lead for Orion at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Coast Guard and other NASA and military safety personnel were nearby during the water training.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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