Orion Heat Shield for Exploration Mission 1 Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Orion heat shield for Exploration Mission 1 arrives at Kennedy Space Center.The heat shield that will protect the Orion crew module during re-entry after the spacecraft’s first uncrewed flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in 2018 arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 25. The heat shield arrived aboard NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility, was offloaded and transported to the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building high bay today.

The heat shield was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the company’s facility near Denver. Orion’s heat shield will help it endure the approximately 5,000 degrees F it will experience upon reentry. The heat shield measures 16.5 feet in diameter.

Orion is the spacecraft that will carry astronauts to deep-space destinations, including the journey to Mars. Orion will be equipped with power, communications and life support systems to sustain space travelers during their journey, and return them safely back to Earth.

For more information about Orion, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/orion/index.html

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Growing Potatoes in ‘Martian Gardens’

A potato grows in simulated Martian regolith. Photo credit: NASAEven when he isn’t officially studying how food production could work on Mars, NASA’s Ralph Fritsche still spends his free time looking into it. He’s seriously committed to the cause.

Here you see a potato plant Fritsche grew in a Martian soil simulant in a small incubator from February to June. The real meat and potatoes of Fritsche’s official work is helping to baseline, document and publish scientific data on growing plants in a medium other than Earth soil so it may be used for future studies.

Just recently, Fritsche has joined forces with the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne to grow various plants in a Martian soil simulant in order to figure out what blend of nutrients will be best suited for growing plants on the planet in the coming decades.

Photo credit: NASA

Platform C South Arrives at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Space Launch System

The first segment of the C-level work platforms, C South, arrives at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.The first half of the C-level work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), C South, arrived in two segments at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center this week. The first segment arrived Aug. 4, and the second segment arrived today. The C work platforms are the eighth of 10 levels of platforms that will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and provide access for processing.

The platform segments were transported from Sauer Corp. in Orlando, Florida, by Tillett Heavy Haul of Titusville, Florida. Sauer is a subcontractor to VAB general contractor Hensel Phelps. Tillett Heavy Haul is a subcontractor to Sauer. The platform was placed on a stand in a staging area near the VAB, where some final assembly will be performed before it is transferred into the building.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new platforms, to prepare for Exploration Mission 1, deep-space missions and the journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Glen Benson

The Tiles that Bond

technicians prepare to bond thermal protection system tiles on the Orion crew module for the agency’s first uncrewed flight test with the Space Launch System (SLS) on NASA’s Journey to Mars.In the photo above, technicians prepare to bond thermal protection system tiles on the Orion crew module for the agency’s first uncrewed flight test with the Space Launch System (SLS) on NASA’s Journey to Mars. The work is taking place inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

While similar to those used on the space shuttle, Orion only requires about 1,300 tiles compared to more than 24,000 on the shuttle. The tiles, along with the spacecraft’s heatshield, will protect Orion from the 5,000 degree Fahrenheit heat of re-entry.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston