Fitting It All Together

Take a look at the new Constellation video that aired on NASA TV during the recent STS-125 shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. In it, astronaut Pam Melroy guides you through Constellation and our hopes and goals for exploration. Click on the image below, and you will be taken to the interactive feature where you can learn about it all. To see the full length video, click on “Play Video” in the middle of the screen once you access the Web feature, and let us know what you think.

Constellation On The Move for Orion's Launch Abort System Test

The Orion crew exploration vehicle team is getting ready for the first flight test of its launch safety system. Components are continuing to arrive at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the test, called Pad Abort 1, will take place in November.

The abort motor for the test was shipped from ATK in Salt Lake City last week. Read more about it here:

Watch video of it moving out here, courtesy of ATK:

Constellation on the Move

NASA is one step closer to launching a flight test of the Constellation Program with Tuesday’s send-off of the Orion jettison motor, a solid rocket motor engineered for the launch abort system of the next-generation spacecraft Orion.


Built for NASA by Aerojet, the jettison motor was shipped from Sacramento, Calif. to the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for the first test of the launch abort system, called Pad Abort-1. Orion’s abort system will be capable of pulling the crew module away from the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle within milliseconds in the event of an emergency on the pad or during the initial ascent phase.

jettison motor


The jettison motor, a key component of the launch abort system, is designed to separate the spacecraft’s abort system from the crew module after it is no longer needed during launch. A jettison motor function will be needed on every Orion mission.


“The delivery of the jettison motor is a significant milestone for the launch abort system program,” said Kevin Rivers, Orion launch abort system manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “Delivering this rocket motor is a great reflection of the intense and focused work by the entire jettison motor team.”


The NASA Orion Project is managed out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. manages the Orion Launch Abort System element development and integration in partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.


The components of the abort system are being delivered by Orbital Sciences Corporation, for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the prime contractor for Orion. Aerojet is the subcontractor responsible for the jettison motor.


Wow! How Tall is That?

The Ares V replica, in the photo, is 1/15 the size of the heavy lift cargo launch vehicle that’s being developed for the Constellation Program — and it stands more than 25 feet tall.

The actual Ares V will stand 380 feet tall. That’s taller than a football field is long.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, recently installed  the scale model replica of an Ares V cargo launch vehicle. Glenn’s Ares V role is leading the design and development of the payload shroud, which is a large structure at the top of the rocket that protects the main payload, a moon lander, during launch. Once clear of the Earth’s atmosphere, the payload shroud will separate from Ares V enabling the lander to dock with Orion in low Earth orbit.

Glenn will also oversee the design and development of several vital subsystems, including the system that steers the vehicle during flight, the electrical power system, development flight instrumentation, and the purge and hazardous gas detection system.  Glenn is also contributing to the design of the Ares V upper stage, the Earth departure stage.  In addition, Glenn expects to play a major role in the environmental testing of the Earth departure stage and its main engine, the J-2X.

The Ares V is being designed by a team of NASA centers and contractors around the country.

Into the Blue (Foam Walls)

An Orion model recently went through some testing here at the Johnson Space Center in an anechoic chamber. Orion’s antennas were being tested out in the chamber, which absorbs all soundwaves and other electromagnetic energy. This is done to more closely mimic the environment of space, and NASA conducted similar testing during Apollo and shuttle. NASA has several of these chambers at different centers, one of which makes an appearance during the movie “Armageddon.”