Orion Heat Shield Installed for NASA’s Artemis II Mission

The heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft
Installation of the heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft was recently completed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

On June 25, 2023, teams completed installation of the heat shield for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 16.5-foot-wide heat shield is one of the most important systems on the Orion spacecraft ensuring a safe return of the astronauts on board. As the spacecraft returns to Earth following its mission around the Moon, it will be traveling at speeds of about 25,000 mph and experience outside temperatures of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside the spacecraft, however, astronauts will experience a much more comfortable temperature in the mid-70s thanks to Orion’s thermal protection system.

Up next, the spacecraft will be outfitted with some of its external panels ahead of acoustic testing later this summer. These tests will validate the crew module can withstand the vibrations it will experience throughout the Artemis II mission, during launch, flight, and landing.

Once acoustic testing is complete, technicians will attach the crew module to Orion’s service module, marking a major milestone for the Artemis II mission, the first mission with astronauts under Artemis that will test and check out all of Orion’s systems needed for future crewed missions.

Mission Specialist Assigned to Crew-7 Space Station Mission

Crew-7 is pictured at SpaceX wearing their SpaceX flight suits.
The four crew members who comprise the SpaceX Crew-7 mission pose for a photo in their spacesuits during a training session at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left are, Mission Specialist Konstantin Borisov, Pilot Andreas Mogensen, Commander Jasmin Moghbeli,, and Mission Specialist Satoshi Furukawa. Photo credit: SpaceX

The final crew member for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission, currently targeted to launch to the International Space Station in mid-August, has been announced.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov will fly as a mission specialist on SpaceX’s seventh rotational mission to the orbiting laboratory for NASA.

Borisov joins previously named crew members NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, and astronaut Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

This will be the first spaceflight for Borisov, who entered the Roscosmos Cosmonaut Corps as a test cosmonaut candidate in 2018.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Crew-7 aboard a Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft previously flew NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 and Crew-5 missions.

NASA and Roscosmos fly integrated crews on U.S. crew spacecraft and on the Soyuz spacecraft to ensure continued safe operations of the International Space Station and the safety of its crew. Integrated crews have been the norm throughout the International Space Station Program, as five space agencies (the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA, and Roscosmos) operate the station, with each space agency responsible for managing and controlling the hardware it provides. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to function. No one agency has the capability to function independent of the others. For continued safe operations of the space station, the integrated crew agreement helps ensure that each crewed spacecraft docked to the station includes an integrated crew with trained crew members in both the Russian and U.S. Operating Segment systems.

For more insight on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program missions to the space station follow the commercial crew blog. More details can be found @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.