The largest piece of structural test hardware for America’s new deep space rocket, the Space Launch System, was loaded into Test Stand 4693 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama Jan. 14, 2019. The liquid hydrogen tank is part of the rocket’s core stage that is more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, and stores cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. The liquid hydrogen tank test article is structurally identical to the flight version of the tank that will comprise two-thirds of the core stage and hold 537,000 gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit. Dozens of hydraulic cylinders in the 215-foot-tall test stand will push and pull the tank, subjecting it to the same stresses and loads it will endure during liftoff and flight.
By Stephanie Zeller NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Half a century ago, Apollo 8 ushered in a new era of space exploration. The missions that followed in close succession would herald these breakthroughs in science and in engineering prowess with drama and color. They would bring a cornucopia of knowledge about the Moon, the origins of our solar system, the nature of our universe, the history of our Earth and even the history of life. In addition to tangible, scientific assets gained from Apollo, the mission brought some degree of unification to a nation fractured by conflict at home and abroad.
First Orion launch abort motor test on June 15, 2017. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)
Second Ground Test of Launch Abort Motor for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft
Northrop Grumman will conduct its second qualification test of its launch abort motor December 13 in Promontory, Utah. The abort motor is a major part of NASA’s Launch Abort System, which provides an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts. The completion of this milestone brings NASA’s Orion spacecraft one step closer to its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System and to enabling humans to explore the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.
What: Ground test firing of launch abort motor
When: Thursday, December 13, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (weather dependent)
Where: Northrop Grumman facility in Promontory, Utah
A public viewing area is available along State Road 83 North approximately 20 miles west of Corinne, Utah (see map – follow directions to Promontory). Please note: We recommend you arrive at the viewing site an hour prior to the test.
Please Note: Drones are NOT allowed to fly over Northrop Grumman property.
By Amanda Griffin NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida
A NASA and Department of Defense team returned from a week of training at sea to improve joint landing and recovering operations planned for crew aboard the agency’s Orion spacecraft from future deep space exploration missions.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is hosting an event at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16, to celebrate the arrival of the European Service Module for the agency’s Orion spacecraft. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Provided by ESA (European Space Agency) and built by ESA contractor Airbus Space, the service module will provide power, air and water to the Orion spacecraft on missions to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
Speaking at the event are:
Janet Petro, deputy director of Kennedy
Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development
Sue Motil, Orion European Service Module integration manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center
Mark Kirasich, Orion Program manager at the agency’s Johnson Space Center
Phillippe Deloo, European Service Module program manager at ESA
Jan Wörner, ESA director general
The service module departed Bremen, Germany, Monday, Nov. 5, and arrived at Kennedy the following day. A team at Kennedy will perform final outfitting, integration and testing of the service and crew modules, and other elements of Orion, in preparation for its first mission, an uncrewed test flight.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The powerhouse that will help NASA’s Orion spacecraft venture beyond the Moon is stateside. The European-built service module that will propel, power and cool during Orion flight to the Moon on Exploration Mission-1 arrived from Germany at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday to begin final outfitting, integration and testing with the crew module and other Orion elements.
A new audit by the NASA Inspector General criticizes Boeing for its management of the stages of the Space Launch System (SLS) while forecasting further delays and large cost overruns for the beleaguered program that is designed to send astronauts to deep space.
“As of August 2018, NASA has spent $11.9 billion on the SLS, but will require significant additional funding to complete the first Core Stage—more than 3 years later than initially planned and at double the anticipated cost,” the audit concluded.
DENVER, Oct. 5, 2018 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Today, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) announced it is studying interest in flying commercial payloads aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The market analysis is the first step toward the company’s vision of bringing commercial opportunities to deep space and fostering a thriving commercial marketplace beyond low-Earth orbit.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In December of 2017, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-1, in which the president directed NASA “to lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”
Mobile launcher reaches launch pad, paving the way for future deep space exploration
DALLAS, Sept. 25, 2018 (Jacobs Engineering PR) — Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE :JEC ), and NASA, recently achieved a major milestone at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as the modified mobile launcher (ML), sitting atop a refurbished Crawler Transporter (CT-2), took its maiden voyage to Launch Pad 39B and then to the Vehicle Assembly Building for fit checks and testing. The ML will support NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft during processing and launch.
NASA has released the National Space Exploration Campaign Report that had been mandated by Congress. It commits the United States to building a human-tended Lunar Gateway beginning in 2023 and returning humans to the moon’s surface by the end of the 2020’s.
The plan is to build a sustainable architecture for lunar exploration that is open to commercial and international partners. NASA would use the exploration campaign to test out technologies for sending astronauts to Mars.
YUMA, Ariz. (NASA PR) — NASA has completed the final test to qualify Orion’s parachute system for flights with astronauts, checking off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the Moon and beyond.
NASA plans to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon within a decade using a sustainable architecture that stresses reusable vehicles and open systems, Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week.
“So how do we go sustainably?” Bridenstine said during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). “We start by taking advantage of capabilities in this country that didn’t exist even five or 10 years ago. We have commercial companies that can do things that weren’t possible even a few years ago….
By Linda Herridge NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center
It’s almost a packed house in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the arrival of the Orion pressure vessel for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) that will carry astronauts beyond the Moon atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The pressure vessel arrived on a super-wide transport truck at the center Aug. 24 and joined the Orion Exploration Mission-1 crew module in the high bay where technicians recently secured the heat shield to the bottom of the spacecraft.
The pressure vessel is Orion’s primary structure that holds the pressurized atmosphere astronauts will breathe and work in while in the vacuum of deep space. The main structure of the pressure vessel consists of seven large aluminum pieces that are welded together to produce a strong, yet light-weight, air-tight capsule. The pieces were joined at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans using a state-of-the-art process called friction-stir welding, which produces incredibly strong bonds by transforming metals from a solid into a plastic-like state, and then using a rotating pin tool to soften, stir and forge a bond between two metal components to form a uniform welded joint, a vital requirement of next-generation space hardware.
The pressure vessel was loaded into the Crew Module Transportation Fixture and then lowered onto a heavy equipment semi-trailer for the nearly 700-mile journey over land to Kennedy. Efforts will now begin to prepare the pressure vessel for flight. Initially, the crew module will be secured into a precision alignment tool and Lockheed Martin technicians will begin the work to attach the main structural components to the exterior of the module. These critical parts, some made of aluminum and titanium, will provide structural strength to the pressure vessel and give the spacecraft its conical shape.
“Flying Orion on our new SLS rocket represents the beginning of a new era in space exploration,” said Kent Beringer, EM-2 lead with Orion Production Operations at Kennedy. “This Orion spacecraft and the SLS will take humans farther into the solar system than ever before. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts on their first flight aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft will travel farther into the solar system than humanity has ever traveled before. Their mission will be to confirm all of the spacecraft’s systems operate as designed in the actual environment of deep space with crew aboard. NASA’s first mission with crew will mark a significant step forward on NASA’s plans to return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and future missions to worlds beyond, including Mars.