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NASA : NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Nears Completion, Ready for Fueling
The Orion crew module, stacked atop its service
module, moved out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept 11. Orion was transported to the
Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy where it will be fueled ahead of
its December flight test. During the flight, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into
space to test the spacecraft systems before humans begin traveling in Orion on
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft, completing several
milestones this week at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation
for the capsule's first trip to space in December.
Engineers finished building the Orion crew module, attached it and the
already-completed service module to the adapter that will join Orion to its
rocket and transported the spacecraft to a new facility for fueling.
The Orion crew and service module stack made a 20
minute trip from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s
Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 11, 2014, to the Payload Hazardous
about building the first of a brand new space transportation system is easy,"
said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "But the crew module is undoubtedly the
most complex component that will fly in December. The pressure vessel, the heat
shield, parachute system, avionics -- piecing all of that together into a
working spacecraft is an accomplishment. Seeing it fly in three months is going
to be amazing."
Finishing the Orion crew module marks the completion of all major components
of the spacecraft. The other two major elements -- the inert service module and
the launch abort system -- were completed in January and December, respectively.
The crew module was attached to the service module in June to allow for testing
before the finishing touches were put on the crew module.
The adapter that will connect Orion to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta
IV Heavy rocket was built by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,
Alabama. It is being tested for use on the agency's Space Launch System rocket
for future deep space missions.
NASA, Orion's prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and ULA managers oversaw the
move of the spacecraft Thursday from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout
Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy, where it will
be fueled with ammonia and hyper-propellants for its flight test. Once fueling
is complete, the launch abort system will be attached. At that point, the
spacecraft will be complete and ready to stack on the Delta IV Heavy.
Orion is being built to send humans farther than ever before, including to an
asteroid and Mars. Although the spacecraft will be uncrewed during its December
flight test, the crew module will be used to transport astronauts safely to and
from space on future missions. Orion will provide living quarters for up to 21
days, while longer missions will incorporate an additional habitat to provide
extra space. Many of Orion's critical safety systems will be evaluated during
December's mission, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, when the spacecraft
travels about 3,600 miles into space.