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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Nears Completion, Ready for Fueling
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft, completing several milestones this week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the capsule’s first trip to space in December.
Engineers finished building the Orion crew module, attached it and the already-completed service module to the adapter that will join Orion to its rocket and transported the spacecraft to a new facility for fueling.
"Nothing about building the first of a brand new space transportation system is easy," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "But the crew module is undoubtedly the most complex component that will fly in December. The pressure vessel, the heat shield, parachute system, avionics — piecing all of that together into a working spacecraft is an accomplishment. Seeing it fly in three months is going to be amazing."
Finishing the Orion crew module marks the completion of all major components of the spacecraft. The other two major elements — the inert service module and the launch abort system — were completed in January and December, respectively. The crew module was attached to the service module in June to allow for testing before the finishing touches were put on the crew module.
The adapter that will connect Orion to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket was built by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It is being tested for use on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket for future deep space missions.
NASA, Orion’s prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and ULA managers oversaw the move of the spacecraft Thursday from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy, where it will be fueled with ammonia and hyper-propellants for its flight test. Once fueling is complete, the launch abort system will be attached. At that point, the spacecraft will be complete and ready to stack on the Delta IV Heavy.
Orion is being built to send humans farther than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars. Although the spacecraft will be uncrewed during its December flight test, the crew module will be used to transport astronauts safely to and from space on future missions. Orion will provide living quarters for up to 21 days, while longer missions will incorporate an additional habitat to provide extra space. Many of Orion’s critical safety systems will be evaluated during December’s mission, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, when the spacecraft travels about 3,600 miles into space.
TOP IMAGE….The Orion crew module, stacked atop its service module, moved out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept 11. Orion was transported to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy where it will be fueled ahead of its December flight test. During the flight, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space to test the spacecraft systems before humans begin traveling in Orion on future missions.
Image Credit: NASA/Dan Casper
LOWER IMAGE….The Orion crew and service module stack made a 20 minute trip from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 11, 2014, to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.
Image Credit: NASA/Dan Casper
The Earth is commonly called the “Goldilocks” planet. At 149.60×10^6 km (1a.u) away from the sun, it is neither too hot nor too cold. We are situated in the solar system at a location where water is liquid and the atmospheric composition is one which not only supports life but allows life to thrive. This blue planet, our home, is the only place known to harbour life- but what is it that makes our world so special?
Very relaxed ambient groove mix - perfect for the long flight to mars.
Seeing a supernovae within hours of the explosion
For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.
ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst aboard the ISS: "Home sweet home. This ISS view is taken from the Russian airlock. You can even see ATV5’s wings!"
Credit: Alexander Gerst/ESA