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.
This week NASA marked both Earth Day and the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch on April 24, 1990. The spectacular images of the cosmos provided by Hubble and the many photos and videos submitted by the public representing their favorites places on Earth as part of the agency’s #NoPlaceLikeHome campaign are a reminder of the incredible tools in space we have to explore new destinations and understand our home planet. On future Orion missions, astronauts will be able to gather spectacular imagery of Earth and other planetary bodies to help us explore places we’ve never been. Today, engineers across the country are hard at work developing and building Orion to make it all possible. This photo was Orion’s view from about 3,600 miles above Earth during its recent flight test.
NASA 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.
We 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.
A 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.
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/1Gpq7CJ
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
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.
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.
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.