Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans continue to weld together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission-1. Technicians recently joined the spacecraft’s barrel section, which is the round middle part of the spacecraft, to the aft bulkhead, which is the bottom portion of the crew module. Orion’s primary structure is composed of seven large pieces that are put together in detailed order. Orion’s three cone panels next will be welded together. Once completed, the structure will be shipped from Michoud to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Orion’s systems and subsystems will be integrated and processed before launch atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
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.
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.
Mars enthusiasts around the world can participate in NASA’s journey to Mars by adding their names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander, scheduled to launch next year.
The fly-your-name opportunity comes with “frequent flier” points to reflect an individual’s personal participation in NASA’s journey to Mars, which will span multiple missions and multiple decades. The InSight mission offers the second such opportunity for space exploration fans to collect points by flying their names aboard a NASA mission, with more opportunities to follow.
Last December, the names of 1.38 million people flew on a chip aboard the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to deep space destinations including Mars and an asteroid. After InSight, the next opportunity to earn frequent flier points will be NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, the first planned test flight bringing together the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule in preparation for human missions to Mars and beyond.
Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 8. To send your name to Mars aboard InSight, go to: http://go.usa.gov/3Aj3G
On Thursday, Aug. 13, NASA engineers fired up a Space Launch System RS-25 rocket engine at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the latest test to collect performance data that will be used to ready the engines for missions to deep space. Orion and the astronauts it carries will fly atop the Space Launch System on missions to an asteroid and eventually on the journey to Mars.
Engineers at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, began the first of a series of modal tests on a structural representation of the crew module adapter (CMA) for Orion. The CMA will connect the capsule to the ESA (European Space Agency)-provided service module for the spacecraft’s next mission, Exploration Mission-1. The service module is designed to be the powerhouse that fuels and propels Orion in space.
The tests at Plum Brook Station shake structural elements at various frequencies to simulate how launch vibrations and acoustics will affect the spacecraft during its trip to space atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. They are being conducted ahead of the arrival of a structural representation of the ESA service module to the facility this fall for additional testing.
Engineers are using a “building block” approach to testing in which they evaluate each piece as the elements composing the service module are stacked atop each other to validate it before flight hardware begins arriving in 2017.
As NASA’s Orion Program continues developing and building the spacecraft that will fly to space atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket to new destinations in the solar system, we’re sharing our progress on Orion’s Flickr site.
There we have photos of recent visits by Orion Program managers to companies around the country which are building critical pieces of the spacecraft, engineers getting essential hardware elements ready for testing, images of the Orion that flew in space in 2014 and many of the people who have contributed their expertise, energy and time to develop, build and fly the spacecraft that will help push the boundaries of human space exploration. Check it out!
Orion’s crew module adapter (CMA) simulator arrived at NASA Glenn’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio on June 22. The simulator was built at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and moved to Plum Brook for Orion service module testing scheduled to begin later this year. At Plum Brook’s Space Power Facility, the CMA and the service module provided by ESA (European Space Agency) will be integrated and then undergo acoustics and mechanical vibration tests that simulate the noise and shaking the service module will endure when the spacecraft heads to space atop the Space Launch System rocket. The service module is a critical part of Orion and houses all the air, nitrogen and water for crews, in-space propulsion, and batteries and solar arrays to generate power.
This week, engineers completed the second experimental test flight of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). During the flight, which took place June 8, the team tested two decelerator technologies that could enable larger payloads to land safely on the surface of Mars, and allow access to more of the planet’s surface by assisting landings at higher-altitude sites. The technology is critical to enabling our journey to Mars. Read about the test here.
Meanwhile, NASA completed another test June 11 of the RS-25 engine that will power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with Orion atop it to space. This is the third firing of an RS-25 development engine on the A-1 test stand at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Four more test are planned for the current development engine.
New video animation also was released this week showing SLS launching Orion to deep space destinations. Check out the smoke and fire!
NASA recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first American spacewalk on June 3, 1965. On that day, supported by a mission control team in Houston, Ed White (shown above) exited his spacecraft during the Gemini 4 mission and spent more than 20 minutes in the void of space. Since this historic first, NASA astronauts have performed spacewalks, or extravehicular activity (EVA) in NASA-speak, on the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. Astronauts have explored the lunar surface, completed 82 spacewalks outside of the space shuttle, and 187 spacewalks, to date, outside the International Space Station. A total of 166 hours of spacewalks were carried out to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Today, NASA is developing new advanced spacesuits for use by astronauts as they travel to new deep-space destinations on the journey to Mars.
Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston continue to test the spacesuit astronauts will wear in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on trips to deep space. The Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit is a closed-loop version of the launch and entry suits worn by space shuttle astronauts. In addition, a next-generation suit will incorporate a number of technology advances to shorten preparation time, improve safety and boost astronaut capabilities during spacewalks and surface activities.
Check out this video on the legacy of 50 years of spacewalk activities that paved the way for future missions.