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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  NASA's Orion Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)

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Author Topic:   NASA's Orion Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-09-2013 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
First mission of Space Launch System with Orion atop it to preview asteroid visit

Managers in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate have initiated a formal request to change the mission plan for the agency's first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS), Exploration Mission (EM) 1 in 2017. The flight will carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to a deep retrograde orbit near the moon, a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where an asteroid could be relocated as early as 2021.

The 25-day mission will send Orion more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon and allow engineers to evaluate the performance of SLS and assess the systems designed to support a crew in Orion before the capsule begins carrying astronauts. The plan will provide NASA with the opportunity to align the flight more closely with the agency's mission to send humans to a relocated asteroid.

The previous plan for the first test flight of the SLS heavy-lift launch vehicle was to send Orion on a 10 day mission to high-lunar orbit to evaluate the fully integrated Orion and SLS system.

"We sent Apollo around the moon before we landed on it and tested the space shuttle's landing performance before it ever returned from space." said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development. "We've always planned for EM-1 to serve as the first test of SLS and Orion together and as a critical step in preparing for crewed flights. This change still gives us that opportunity and also gives us a chance to test operations planning ahead of our mission to a relocated asteroid."

The request will be reviewed later this summer by a range of other NASA officials.

The agency announced in April a plan to find and redirect an asteroid to a stable point near the moon where astronauts can visit and study it as early as 2021.

NASA's asteroid initiative leverages human and robotic exploration activities while also accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids. It aligns current and future work in NASA's Science, Space Technology and Human Exploration and Operations mission directorates to achieve the space goals set by the administration.

Across the U.S., engineers at NASA and its contractors are making progress to develop and test Orion and SLS. Orion will first launch on a test flight in September 2014. A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will send the spacecraft to an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. It will reenter the atmosphere at speeds of about 20,000 mph and endure temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The test flight is designed to evaluate the performance of Orion's heatshield and other systems.

The SLS program currently is undergoing an extensive review process to ensure that every element of the launch vehicle can be successfully integrated. The review process, called the Preliminary Design Review, is scheduled for completion later this summer.

SLS will be NASA's most capable rocket ever and enable missions to new destinations in the solar system.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-13-2015 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lockheed Martin release
Orion Test Lab Mockup for Next Flight Finished

The construction of an Orion crew module and crew module adapter full-scale mockup has been completed at the Lockheed Martin Littleton, Colorado facility.

This mockup was transferred to the Orion Test Lab (OTL) on May 13, 2015 where engineers will configure it with the exact harnessing, electrical power, sensors, avionics and flight software needed to support Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).

Orion's team of engineers will use the mockup to verify the configuration of these vehicle components for EM-1 which ultimately saves assembly time and reduces risk. The mockup will then be connected to hardware emulations of the full EM-1 stack (Orion crew module, European Service Module, second stage booster, and the Space Launch System) as well as ground support equipment.

Once it's connected, the team will simulate and test every aspect of the EM-1 mission from launch to splash down.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-08-2015 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
First Pieces of NASA's Orion for Next Mission Come Together at Michoud

NASA is another small step closer to sending astronauts on a journey to Mars. On Saturday, engineers at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module that will fly atop NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a mission beyond the far side of the moon.

Above: Lockheed Martin Engineers at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, perform the first weld on the Orion pressure vessel for Exploration Mission 1. (NASA/Radislav Sinyak)

"Every day, teams around the country are moving at full speed to get ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), when we'll flight test Orion and SLS together in the proving ground of space, far away from the safety of Earth," said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We're progressing toward eventually sending astronauts deep into space."

The primary structure of Orion's crew module is made of seven large aluminum pieces that must be welded together in detailed fashion. The first weld connects the tunnel to the forward bulkhead, which is at the top of the spacecraft and houses many of Orion's critical systems, such as the parachutes that deploy during reentry. Orion's tunnel, with a docking hatch, will allow crews to move between the crew module and other spacecraft.

"Each of Orion's systems and subsystems is assembled or integrated onto the primary structure, so starting to weld the underlying elements together is a critical first manufacturing step," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "The team has done tremendous work to get to this point and to ensure we have a sound building block for the rest of Orion's systems."

Engineers have undertaken a meticulous process to prepare for welding. They have cleaned the segments, coated them with a protective chemical and primed them. They then outfitted each element with strain gauges and wiring to monitor the metal during the fabrication process. Prior to beginning work on the pieces destined for space, technicians practiced their process, refined their techniques and ensured proper tooling configurations by welding together a pathfinder, a full-scale version of the current spacecraft design.

NASA's prime contractor for the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin, is doing the production of the crew module at Michoud.

Through collaborations across design and manufacturing, teams have been able to reduce the number of welds for the crew module by more than half since the first test version of Orion's primary structure was constructed and flown on the Exploration Flight Test-1 last December. The Exploration Mission-1 structure will include just seven main welds, plus several smaller welds for start and stop holes left by welding tools. Fewer welds will result in a lighter spacecraft.

During the coming months as other pieces of Orion's primary structure arrive at Michoud from machine houses across the country, engineers will inspect and evaluate them to ensure they meet precise design requirements before welding. Once complete, the structure will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will be assembled with the other elements of the spacecraft, integrated with SLS and processed before launch.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-19-2016 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Engineers mark completion of Orion's pressure vessel

NASA's Orion spacecraft is another step closer to launching on its first mission to deep space atop the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. On Jan. 13, technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space, marking another important step on the journey to Mars.

"We've started off the year with an key step in our process to get ready for Exploration Mission-1, when together Orion and SLS will travel farther than a spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled," said Mike Sarafin, Exploration Mission-1 manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This brings us closer to our goal of testing our deep space exploration systems in the proving ground of lunar space before we begin sending astronauts days to weeks from Earth."

Welding Orion's seven large aluminum pieces, which began in September 2015, involved a meticulous process. Engineers prepared and outfitted each element with strain gauges and wiring to monitor the metal during the process. The pieces were joined 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 team at Michoud has worked incredibly hard produce a lightweight, yet incredibly durable Orion structure ready for its mission thousands of miles beyond the moon," said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager. "The work to get us to this point has been essential. Orion's pressure vessel is the foundation on which all of the spacecraft's systems and subsystems are going to be built and integrated."

The pressure vessel provides a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. After final checkouts, technicians will prepare the pressure vessel for shipment to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the agency's Super Guppy aircraft. At Kennedy, it will undergo several tests to ensure the structure is sound before being integrated with other elements of the spacecraft.

The uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 will pave the way for future missions with astronauts. During the flight, in which SLS and Orion will launch from NASA's modernized spaceport at Kennedy, the spacecraft will venture to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon. This first exploration mission will allow NASA to use the lunar vicinity as a proving ground to test technologies farther from Earth, and demonstrate it can get to a stable orbit near the moon in order to support sending humans to deep space.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-03-2016 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lockheed Martin release
New and Improved Orion Crew Module Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Milestone Marks First Major Delivery of Exploration Mission-1 Flight Hardware

The Lockheed Martin and NASA Orion team has secured the 2,700 lb. Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) Orion crew module into its structural assembly tool, also known as the "birdcage." The crew module is the living quarters for astronauts and the backbone for many of Orion's systems such as propulsion, avionics and parachutes.

Above: The Orion spacecraft's crew module has been safely secured into its structural assembly tool in the Operations & Checkout Facility.

"The structure shown here is 500 pounds lighter than its Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) counterpart," said Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Orion vice president and program manager. "Once the final structural components such as longerons, bolts and brackets are added, total crew module structural weight savings from EFT-1 to EM-1 will total 700 pounds."

From experience gained by building test articles, building and flying EFT-1, and now building the EM-1 crew module, the Lockheed Martin team is learning how to shed weight, reduce costs and simplify the manufacturing process – all in an effort to improve the production time and cost of future Orions.

"Our very talented team in Louisiana has manufactured a great product and now they have passed the baton to Florida," said Hawes. "This is where we assemble, test and launch, and the fun really begins."

Above: On February 1, NASA's Super Guppy airplane transported the Orion crew module from Michoud Assembly Facility to Kennedy Space Center.

At Kennedy Space Center, the crew module will undergo several tests to ensure the structure is perfectly sound before being integrated with other elements of the spacecraft. First it will undergo proof-pressure testing where the structural welds are stress tested to confirm it can withstand the environments it will experience in space. The team will then use phased array technology to inspect the welds to make sure there are no defects. Additional structural tests will follow including proof-pressure testing of the fluid system welds and subsequent x-ray inspections.

Once the crew module passes those tests it will undergo final assembly, integration and entire vehicle testing in order to prepare for EM-1, when Orion is launched atop NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) for the first time. The test flight will send Orion into lunar distant retrograde orbit – a wide orbit around the moon that is farther from Earth than any human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled. The mission will last about three weeks and will certify the design and safety of Orion and SLS for future human-rated exploration missions.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-11-2016 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lockheed Martin release
Orion Exploration Mission-1 Crew Module Pressure Tested

Spacecraft Approved for Assembly of Secondary Structures

The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and NASA Orion team has successfully proof-pressure tested the Orion spacecraft's Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) crew module. The crew module is the living quarters for astronauts and the backbone for many of Orion's systems such as propulsion, avionics and parachutes.

In order to certify the structural integrity of the crew module it was outfitted with approximately 850 instruments and subjected to 1.25 times the maximum pressure the capsule is expected to experience during its deep space missions. That means about 20 pounds per square inch of pressure was distributed over the entire inner surface of the spacecraft trying to burst it from within. As a next step, the team will use phased array technology to inspect all of the spacecraft's welds in order to ensure there are no defects.

Once the primary structure of the crew module has been verified, the team will begin the installation of secondary structures such as tubes, tanks and thrusters. Once those pieces are in place, the crew module will be moved into the clean room and the propulsion and environmental control and life support systems will be installed.

"Our experience building and flying Exploration Flight Test-1 has allowed us to improve the build and test process for the EM-1 crew module," said Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Orion vice president and program manager. "Across the program we are establishing efficiencies that will decrease the production time and cost of future Orion spacecraft."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-29-2016 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Tile Bonding Begins for Orion's First Mission Atop Space Launch System Rocket

A crucial part of preparing NASA's next Orion spacecraft for flight now is underway. Technicians recently began the process of bonding thermal protection system (TPS) tiles to panels that will be installed on Orion.

The tiles will protect the spacecraft from the searing heat of re-entry when it returns from deep space missions.

Above: In the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, technicians have begun bonding thermal protection system tiles to the nine panels the will cover the Orion crew module for the agency's first unpiloted flight test with the Space Launch System (SLS) on the agency's Journey to Mars.

The first integrated mission of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with Orion, Exploration Mission 1, or EM-1, will lift off from Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On the mission, the spacecraft will venture 40,000 miles beyond the orbit of the moon, farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled, testing the systems needed for the agency's journey to Mars. The mission will conclude with Orion re-entering through the Earth's atmosphere at 25,000 mph, generating heat at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Joy Huff, a thermal protection system engineer in the Materials Science Branch of Kennedy Engineering, Orion's back shell panels and forward bay cover, which helps protect the spacecraft during re-entry, will be protected by silica tiles similar to those used for more than 30 years on the space shuttle.

"The seven to eight technicians and two quality inspectors with Arctic Slope Research Corp. doing the work are veterans of bonding tiles to the shuttle orbiters." she said. "The tiles are manufactured here in Kennedy's Thermal Protection System Facility."

Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.

The company provides digital, computer-aided design information that defines the size and shape of each tile. At Kennedy's TPSF, that information is used to manufacture the tiles. A 3-D camera then scans the as-built shape for comparison to the design information. This ensures that the manufactured tile meets the design requirements before it is placed on one of nine tile panels or the forward bay cover.

The bonding process began in July and will take several months. The work is taking place in the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building where assembly of the Orion crew module's pressure vessel, or underlying structure, has been taking place since it arrived at the Florida spaceport in February.

Orion will need about 1,300 tiles to protect it. On average, the tiles are 8-inches by 8-inches and many are standard in size allowing them to have the same dimensions with the same part number.

"Some tiles on Orion are a unique design to fit around windows, thrusters and antennas," Huff said.

Huff noted that Orion tiles incorporate a stronger coating called "toughened uni-piece fibrous insulation," or TUFI coating, which was used toward the end of the Space Shuttle Program.

"The 'tougher' tiles are important to Orion as they will help limit damage during ground processing and by debris in orbit," Huff said.

Once the tile bonding is complete, the nine panels and forward bay cover will be installed on the crew module after it is mated to its service module.

"For EM-1, the back shell panels will have a different look than Orion's first test flight," said Huff.

Orion's inaugural mission, known as Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1, was flown on Dec. 5, 2014. On that flight, the tiles gave the crew module a black look.

"For EM-1, we will place an aluminized coating over the tiles, giving it a shiny silver look," she said.

Above: Orion requires about 1,300 tiles. Many of the Orion tiles are standard, except for those which fit around windows, thrusters or antennae.

Following deep-space missions, Orion will make a comet-like re-entry through Earth's atmosphere, protected by the tiles and the largest and most advanced heat shield ever constructed. The spacecraft then will splashdown in the ocean.

"The fact that Orion lands in the ocean, requires we replace the tiles after each mission," Huff said. "The tiles are waterproofed to protect them from fresh water, such as rain. But during re-entry the waterproofing material burns out of the tiles so they do absorb salt water while in the ocean and that adds contaminants that would make their reuse impossible."

Installing TPS tiles will be a part of preparation for each mission. The work taking place now will help perfect the process.

For EM-1, Orion will travel well beyond the moon for about three weeks, collecting data and allowing mission controllers to assess the performance of the spacecraft.

"We're looking forward to EM-1," Huff said. "SLS is the largest rocket ever built. It will help confirm we're doing things the right way on Orion, and we'll be another step closer to Mars."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 35256
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-25-2016 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lockheed Martin release
Heat Shield Designed to Protect Orion Ships to Kennedy Space Center

The Orion team at Lockheed Martin's Space Systems Company facility outside of Denver recently completed and shipped the heat shield structure for the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) spacecraft.

At 16.5 feet in diameter, the heat shield for Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) was the largest composite heat shield ever built. And now, the team has completed the second.

Among members of the heat shield manufacturing team, enthusiasm and excitement was high.

"Working on the Orion heat shields is my favorite project," said James Beffel, a machinist in the Prototype Development Center where the heat shield and other spacecraft structures are machined. "It's not just the size and complexity, but the Orion mission as a whole. It's an emotional motivator to know that I helped build a critical part of these missions that are redefining human spaceflight."

"I've only been with Lockheed Martin for about a year-and-a-half, and this is my first build of this magnitude in size and logistics," said Matt Rieck, a manufacturing engineer. "I came from the missile defense world, so this is the first thing I've worked on that I want to see fly."

Planning for a heat shield build of this complexity can begin up to a year in advance of production. Matt is already working on capturing lessons learned and beginning to coordinate the logistics for a static test article build, which will be the model for the Exploration Mission-2 heat shield.

Over the next six months, the team at Kennedy Space Center will install Avcoat blocks, flight instrumentation and multi-layer insulation onto the heat shield. Once those steps are complete, the new, lighter-weight heat shield be installed onto Orion's crew module — one of the program's major assembly milestones ahead of flight.

Orion's heat shield will protect the spacecraft during the entire EM-1 mission which includes about three weeks in deep space, over 4500°F re-entry temperatures and a safe splashdown in the ocean.

See here for discussion of NASA's 2018 Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).

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