The Orion space capsule that launched on Dec. 5 has been under development by NASA since the mid-2000s. But watching it splash down in the Pacific ocean four hours later, you’d be forgiven for thinking of the 1970s.

The capsule, which by some reliable estimates cost over $10 billion, didn’t accomplish anything that wasn’t somewhat routine for NASA in the era of the Apollo moon landings. NASA, however, is encouraging a very different view.

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