More than 450 guests at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida welcomed the arrival of the agency’s first space-bound Orion spacecraft Monday, marking a major milestone in the construction of the vehicle that will carry astronauts farther into space than ever before.
“Orion’s arrival at Kennedy is an important step in meeting the president’s goal to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s,” NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. “As NASA acquires services for delivery of cargo and crew to the International Space Station and other low-Earth destinations from private companies, NASA can concentrate its efforts on building America’s next generation space exploration system to reach destinations for discovery in deep space. Delivery of the first space-bound Orion, coupled with recent successes in commercial spaceflight, is proof this national strategy is working.”
Orion will be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed. It will provide emergency abort capability, sustain astronauts during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA engineers working on the new Space Launch System (SLS) can now begin developing the advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle’s flight software using newly delivered software test bed computers from Boeing.
The SLS will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. Designed to be flexible for crew or cargo missions, SLS and Orion will be safe, affordable, sustainable and continue America’s journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space.
On Feb. 29, NASA successfully conducted another drop test of the Orion crew vehicle’s entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle’s orbital flight test in 2014. Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing.
An Air Force C-17 plane dropped a test version of Orion from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. Orion’s drogue chutes were deployed between 15,000 and 20,000 feet, followed by the pilot parachutes, which deployed the main landing parachutes. Orion landed on the desert floor at a speed of almost 17 mph, well below the maximum designed touchdown speed of the spacecraft.
A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft soon will make a cross-country journey, giving residents in three states the chance to see a full scale test version of the vehicle that will take humans into deep space.
The crew module will make stops during a trip from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The planned stops include Jan. 23-25 at Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City; Jan. 27-29 at Victory Park and the American Airlines Center in Dallas; and, Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Engineers, program officials, astronauts and NASA spokespeople will be available to speak with the media and the public.
NASA successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle’s parachutes high above the Arizona desert Tuesday in preparation for its orbital flight test in 2014. Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing.
A C-130 plane dropped the Orion test article from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds. Orion’s drogue chutes were deployed between 15,000 and 20,000 feet, followed by the pilot parachutes, which then deployed two main landing parachutes. This particular drop test examined how Orion would land under two possible failure scenarios.
Orion’s parachutes are designed to open in stages, which is called reefing, to manage the stresses on the parachutes after they are deployed. The reefing stages allow the parachutes to sequentially open, first at 54 percent of the parachutes’ full diameter, and then at 73 percent. This test examined how the parachutes would perform if the second part of the sequence was skipped.
NASA conducted a successful 500-second test firing of the J-2X rocket engine on Wednesday, Nov. 9, marking another important step in development of an upper stage for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS).
SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft, its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments to destinations in deep space. SLS will be safe, affordable and sustainable to continue America’s journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space.
“The J-2X engine is critical to the development of the Space Launch System,” Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said after the test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. “Today’s test means NASA is moving closer to developing the rocket it needs if humans are to explore beyond low-Earth orbit.”
NASA plans to add an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014 to its contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the multi-purpose crew vehicle’s design, development, test and evaluation. This test supports the new Space Launch System (SLS) that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create U.S. jobs, and provide the cornerstone for America’s future human spaceflight efforts.
“President Obama and Congress have laid out an ambitious space exploration plan, and NASA is moving out quickly to implement it,” NASA Associate Administrator for Communications David Weaver said. “This flight test will provide invaluable data to support the deep space exploration missions this nation is embarking upon.”
This Exploration Flight Test, or EFT-1, will fly two orbits to a high-apogee, with a high-energy re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Orion will make a water landing and be recovered using operations planned for future human exploration missions. The test mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to acquire critical re-entry flight performance data and demonstrate early integration capabilities that benefit the Orion, SLS, and 21st Century Ground Systems programs. The agency has posted a synopsis explaining its intention on NASA’s procurement website.