NASA Progressing Toward First Launch of Orion Spacecraft
Employees at the Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala., unpack four
large metal rings that will be used to
create adapters for NASA's Orion
spacecraft to integrate with the propulsion
elements for flight. The rings were forged
at Major Tool and Machine in Indianapolis,
Ind., for NASA's Space Launch System Program,
managed at the Marshall Center.
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"These recent milestones are laying the foundation for our first flight test of Orion in 2014," said Dan Dumbacher, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The work being done to prepare for the flight test is really a nationwide effort and we have a dedicated team committed to our goal of expanding the frontier of space."
A tool that will allow the titanium skeleton of the Orion heat shield to be bolted to its carbon fiber skin is at the Denver facility of the spacecraft's prime contractor Lockheed Martin. This will enable workers to begin assembling the two pieces of the heat shield. Almost 3,000 bolts are needed to hold the skeleton to the skin. A special stand was built to align the skin on the skeleton as holes for the bolts are drilled. Work to bolt the skeleton to the skin will be completed in January. The heat shield then will be shipped to Textron Defense Systems near Boston where the final layer, an ablative material very similar to that used on the Apollo spacecraft, will be added. The completed heat shield is scheduled to be ready for installation onto the Orion crew module at Kennedy next summer.
To test the heat shield during EFT-1's re-entry, Orion will travel more than 3,600 miles above Earth's surface, 15 times farther than the International Space Station's orbital position. This is farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years. Orion will return home at a speed almost 5,000 mph faster than any current human spacecraft.
Michael Hale, a quality assurance inspector
with the Space Systems Department at the
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,
Ala., takes a closer look at a set of metal
rings recently delivered to the Marshall
Center. Two of the rings will be part of an
adapter integrating the Orion spacecraft to
a Delta IV rocket for a test flight in 2014,
and the other two will be part of a ground
test adapter for the Space Launch System.
Data from the adapter on the flight test will provide Marshall engineers with invaluable experience developing hardware early in the design process. Designing the adapter once for multiple flights also provides a cost savings.
Of the two adapters welded at Marshall, one will attach Orion to the Delta IV heavy-lift rocket used for EFT-1. The other adapter will be a structural test article to gain knowledge on the design.
NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program also has passed a major agency review that lays the groundwork at Kennedy to support future Orion and SLS launches. The GSDO Program completed a combined system requirements review and system definition review, in which an independent board of technical experts from across NASA evaluated the program's infrastructure specifications, budget and schedule. The board confirmed GSDO is ready to move from concept development to preliminary design. The combination of the two assessments represents a fundamentally different way of conducting NASA program reviews. The team is streamlining processes to provide the nation with a safe, affordable and sustainable launch facility.
The GSDO program last week also led the third Stationary Recovery Test Working Group session in Norfolk, Va. The team presented to the U.S. Navy detachment that will recover the capsule during EFT-1 a complete list of tasks required to accomplish stationary recovery test objectives. The working group outlined the plan for roles and responsibilities to accomplish required test procedures. Included in these presentations were the commanding officer of the USS Mesa Verde and the fleet forces command director of operations, who both expressed complete support for the test.
The Ground Systems Development and
Operations Program at Kennedy Space
Center passed a major agency review
that lays the groundwork at Kennedy
to support future Orion and Space
Launch System launches.
Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 28 February 2014 - 10:50 PM.