NASA confirm that the Orion crew capsule is officially complete

NASA’s Orion capsule is now ready for manned missions ahead of its first crewed launch in 2022

  • Vice President Mike Pence made official announcement at NASA headquarters
  • Orion will first travel into Distant Retrograde Orbit without a crew in July 2020
  • This will break the distance record held by America’s previous Apollo endeavors  
  • Voyage will last 22 days and test system readiness for future crewed operations 

They recently marked the 50th anniversary of the world’s first-ever successful space mission.  

But NASA officials have another reason to celebrate, this week, after confirming that the Orion crew capsule is officially complete.

It will now be ready to tests and preparations for the 2020 lunar orbit timeline and a crewed launch two years afterwards. 

Vice President Mike Pence made the official announcement at NASA headquarters in Florida on Saturday afternoon.

Pence was joined on stage by Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin and Rick Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong.  

Scroll down for video  

Finished product: The underlying structure of the crew module, known as the pressure vessel, was manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and shipped to the Kennedy Space Centre

‘Thanks to the hard work of the men and women of NASA, and of American industry, the Orion crew vehicle for the Artemis 1 mission is complete and ready to begin preparations for its historic first flight,’ said Pence. 

Artemis 1 will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket around the Moon to test the system and pave the way for landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in five years, as well as future missions to Mars. 

Engineers recently completed building and outfitting the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Centre. 

The underlying structure of the crew module, known as the pressure vessel, was manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and shipped to Kennedy, where teams have integrated thousands of parts into the crew module and conducted tests to certify all of its systems for flight.

Once the two modules are joined, engineers will install a heatshield backshell panel on the spacecraft and prepare it for a September flight inside the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.   

Testing at Plum Brook will ensure the joined modules can withstand the deep space environment.

When testing in Ohio is complete, the spacecraft will return to Kennedy for final processing and inspections. 

Official announcement: Vice President Mike Pence celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing with Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin (left) and Rick Armstrong (right), son of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong

WHAT ARE NASA’S PLANS FOR ORION?

Nasa’s Orion, stacked on a Space Launch System rocket capable of lifting 70 metric tons will launch from a newly refurbished Kennedy Space Center in 2019 for the EM-1 mission.

The uncrewed Orion will travel into Distant Retrograde Orbit, breaking the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles).

The mission will last 22 days and was designed to test system readiness for future crewed operations. 

Then, following the uncrewed space flight tests, the first crewed test flight will launch.

While NASA has been hard at work in recent months readying the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket for an unmanned flight next year, the space agency and its partners are already looking ahead. An artist’s impression is pictured 

This could come as early as August 2021, according to NASA.

Though crew size will be determined closer to launch, the space agency plans to fly up to four astronauts.

Orion will carry the crew through two orbits around Earth to ensure everything is working properly.

Them, it will carry out different orbital to eventually be on a path toward the moon.

The crew will fly around the backside of the moon, creating a figure eight, before returning to Earth using the moon’s gravitational pull ‘like a slingshot to bring Orion home,’ NASA says.

Teams then will fuel the spacecraft and transport it to Kennedy’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building for integration with the SLS rocket before it is rolled out to Launch Pad 39B for the launch of Artemis 1.

Orion won’t be carrying personnel though – it will travel uncrewed into Distant Retrograde Orbit, breaking the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles).

The mission will last 22 days and was designed to test system readiness for future crewed operations. 

WHAT IS NASA’S ARTEMIS MISSION TO THE MOON?

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. 

NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 –  including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. 

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. 

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.

The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons. 

Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

 

Source: Read Full Article