Category Archives: Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1)

NASA Appoints Mark Kirasich to Serve as Orion Program Manager

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Mark Kirasich

NASA has appointed Mark Kirasich to be manager of the agency’s Orion Program. Credits: NASA/Bill Stafford

NASA has appointed Mark Kirasich to be manager of the agency’s Orion Program. The Orion spacecraft is being developed to send astronauts to deep space destinations, such as an asteroid and ultimately to Mars, launching on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.

Kirasich has been deputy Orion Program manager since 2006. He now will be responsible for oversight of design, development and testing of the Orion spacecraft, as well as spacecraft manufacturing already underway at locations across the country and in Europe for ESA (European Space Agency).

“Mark brings a wealth of knowledge about NASA’s human spaceflight efforts to the Orion Program manager position,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “By overseeing the team and the work needed to send Orion to deep space, and working directly with our international partner ESA to provide the spacecraft’s service module, his leadership will be essential to enabling humans to pioneer farther into the solar system and continue our journey to Mars.”

Kirasich began his NASA career in 1983 at Johnson Space Center as a member of the space shuttle flight operations team, quickly advancing to the position of lead space shuttle payload officer in mission control. In 1996, he was selected as a flight director in charge of planning and executing NASA human spaceflight missions, serving in that capacity for multiple space shuttle missions and International Space Station expeditions.

“I have seen firsthand Mark’s impact on the Orion Program, and previously in key operations leadership roles at Johnson, and I look forward to having him help us extend the success of Orion’s 2014 flight test forward,” said JSC Director Ellen Ochoa.

Kirasich succeeds Mark Geyer, who became JSC’s deputy director in August.

A native of Chicago, Kirasich received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1982 from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1983 from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Space Flight Awareness Award, as well as a JSC Director’s Commendation.

Across the country, elements of the Orion spacecraft are coming together for the first integrated mission with the Space Launch System. At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, welding began in September on the next Orion destined for space. Next month, NASA will see the arrival of a test version of Orion’s service module, provided by ESA, for testing and analysis at the agency’s Plum Brook Station, near Sandusky, Ohio.

For more information about Orion, click here.

Flown Orion Arrives in Colorado for Additional Analysis and Testing

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Engineers Examine Orion

Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver examine Orion upon its arrival. Credit: Lockheed Martin

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew into space in 2014 has completed its trek from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Littleton, Colorado, facility of Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Engineers will perform final decontamination of the crew module, continue post-flight analysis and evaluate a new acoustic technology to determine if the method can produce enough energy to simulate the acoustic loads Orion will experience during launch and ascent atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Check out images of Orion and read more about the acoustic testing here.

Administrator Surveys Orion

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NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, center, looks at the heat shield of Orion as Kelvin Manning, associate director of Kennedy Space Center, left, and Jules Schneider accompany him. Photo credits: NASA/Cory Huston

2015-1020NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden looked over the agency’s Orion spacecraft this morning for the first time since it returned to Kennedy Space Center following the successful Orion flight test on Dec. 5. Bearing the marks of a spacecraft that has returned to Earth through a searing plunge into the atmosphere, Orion is perched on a pedestal inside the Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy where it is going through post-mission processing. Although the spacecraft Bolden looked over did not fly with a crew aboard during the flight test, Orion is designed to carry astronauts into deep space in the future setting NASA and the nation firmly on the journey to Mars.

Reentry Through the Eyes of Orion

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orionreentryvideo-plasmaWe can’t give you a ride inside Orion firsthand, but we can show what it looked like from the spacecraft thanks to cameras aboard the ship during the 4.5-hour flight test on Dec. 5. The last 10 minutes of Orion’s flight test show the plunge through Earth’s atmosphere, when searing plasma so hot it appears purple (upper left) surrounds Orion.

Orionreentryvideo-chutesdeployA few minutes later you can witness the jettison of the forward bay cover, followed by the release of the drogue chutes and then the main chutes (lower left). It’s all right there before your eyes just as it happened on Orion and how future astronauts will see it when they return from deep space missions and one day coming home from Mars.  

Read more details about the video and Orion: http://go.nasa.gov/1AP2RfC.

Read Details about Orion’s Recovery

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It took a team of divers, handlers and spacecraft specialists from NASA, the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin to pull Orion from the sea following the spacecraft’s successful flight test and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Read about the work performed Dec. 5 to secure Orion inside the USS Anchorage before bringing the spacecraft back to shore to begin its cross-country  road trip back to Florida. http://go.nasa.gov/1Gpq7CJ15355316984_12c3d598ba_o

President Congratulates Orion Chief Engineer and Team

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President Obama, speaking to the Senior Executive Service, recognized Julie Kramer White, Orion’s chief engineer, for the successful Orion flight test. He also noted the spacecraft’s mission, saying that “when a human is the first to set foot (on Mars), they will have Julie and her team to thank and at that point, I’ll be out of the presidency and I might hitch a ride.”

Here’s Julie’s bio: http://women.nasa.gov/julie-kramer-white

Orion Off-loaded for Trip Back to Florida

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The Orion spacecraft was off-loaded from the well deck of the USS Anchorage Monday night after the amphibious ship docked in San Diego. The ship’s crew along with NASA and Lockheed Martin teams retrieved the spacecraft from the Pacific Ocean at the end of the highly successful Orion flight test that saw the Orion fly about 3,600 miles above Earth in a 4.5-hour evaluation of critical systems and mechanisms including jettison events and the ability of the heat shield to stand up to temperatures of 4,000 degrees F. Next up for Orion, a trip cross-country back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Photo credit: NASA

Orion Coming to San Diego Today

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An MH-60 helicopter flies over the Orion as recovery teams move in to retrieve the spacecraft.

Orion is expected to be off-loaded from the USS Anchorage today at Naval Base San Diego today following its recovery Friday after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The spacecraft is nestled inside the well deck of the amphibious ship during the trek from its splashdown point about 600 miles southwest of San Diego.

The spacecraft then will be transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where engineers will gather more information about Orion’s performance.

Orion’s flight tested many of the systems most critical to crew safety, including key separation events, parachutes and its heat shield. During Orion’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft endured speeds of 20,000 mph and temperatures near 4,000 degrees F.

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The Orion floats in the Pacific with stabilizing balloons inflated as the USS Anchorage moves int to retrieve the spacecraft.

The Orion spacecraft is guided into the well deck of the USS Anchorage during recovery operations following splashdown. Photo credit: NASA

The Orion spacecraft is guided into the well deck of the USS Anchorage during recovery operations following splashdown.

Orion Recovered

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft is pulled safely into the well deck of the U.S. Navy’s USS Anchorage, following its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is pulled safely into the well deck of the U.S. Navy’s USS Anchorage, following its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Orion has been safely recovered and is inside the USS Anchorage. After the crew module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean earlier today, a team of NASA, U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin personnel attached hardware to the spacecraft, allowing them to move it into the ship’s well deck and nestling Orion onto several bumpers on the bottom of the deck. Over the next several days, the team will perform an initial check out of Orion while the Anchorage transports the spacecraft back to shore. It is expected to be off loaded at Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

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