Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Space Travel News .




SPACE TRAVEL
Astronauts Practice Launching in NASA's New Orion Spacecraft
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 06, 2014


Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman try out a prototype display and control system inside an Orion spacecraft mockup at Johnson Space Center during the first ascent and abort simulations for the program. Image Credit: NASA

NASA astronauts recently experienced what it will be like to launch into space aboard the new Orion spacecraft during the first ascent simulations since the space shuttles and their simulators were retired.

Ascent simulations are precise rehearsals of the steps a spacecraft's crew will be responsible for - including things that could go wrong - during their climb into space. They can be generic and apply to any future deep space mission, or very specific to a launch that's been planned down to the second. For now, Orion's simulations fall into the first category, but practicing now helps ensure the team will have the systems perfected for the astronauts in any future mission scenario.

"Simulations like these provide valuable experience by giving astronauts and our operations team an early look at what going to deep space in Orion will be like," said Lee Morin, an astronaut and supervisor of Johnson's rapid prototyping laboratory, who has been working on the Orion displays. "Rehearsing launch and ascent--two of the most challenging parts of Orion's mission -- also gives us an opportunity to work toward optimizing how the crew interacts with the spacecraft."

Designing a spacecraft's cockpit for ease of use and efficiency is no easy task. Each space shuttle had 10 display screens, more than 1,200 switches, dials and gauges, plus hundreds of pounds of procedures printed on paper. Orion, which is designed for deep-space exploration and autonomous or piloted rendezvous and docking, will use new technology to distill all of that down to just three computer screens, each the size of a sheet of paper.

"It sounds promising and saves a lot of weight, but designing it is challenging," said Jeff Fox, the Orion crew systems integration lead. "We don't want the crew to have to search through a lot of dropdown menus when they need to quickly access key systems and information."

It will take about eight minutes for Orion to get from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center to the altitude where the rocket's main engines will cut off, the milestone that marks the spacecraft's arrival in space. In that time, if everything goes as planned, the commander and pilot will have few actions to perform; if anything goes wrong, that quickly changes, and the crew must be able to quickly access all the relevant procedures and displays they need.

The Orion team has been working to develop ideas on how to make that possible, and has developed a working prototype that's been installed in a life-sized Orion mockup at Johnson Space Center. But no one is better able to judge how well it works than an astronaut.

"No one knows how to fly Orion yet - the hardware doesn't exist yet in some cases," Morin said. "But these crews have a lot of flight experience and a lot of test flight experience. They can help us design the displays and build a better product."

Over the course of two weeks, 10 crews of two astronauts apiece performed two normal launch simulations and two launch abort simulations inside the Orion mockup. As they made their way through the various actions they were called on to perform, engineers took careful notes of every comment they made and question they asked. That data will be evaluated as engineers continue to fine-tune the design and build requirements for the displays and controls.

In a few months, the same crews will come back and try a new and improved version, and the process will repeat itself as Orion's mission requirements evolve and the vehicle design is refined. In the end, the engineers and astronauts will rest assured that the system will work exactly as it should. Orion's data and software will be made available to NASA's commercial partners for use in vehicles being built to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Although the final product will be different because the vehicles travel to unique destinations, NASA's partners can choose to use it and build off of Orion's foundation.

"It's very rewarding work, knowing the displays we are creating and testing now will be what future astronauts will be looking at as they rendezvous with an asteroid, orbit the moon, and even travel to Mars," Morin said. "Getting this right is key to making Orion and other future vehicles safer and easier to use."

Orion's first crewed launch, Exploration Mission-1, is scheduled for 2021, when NASA plans to send two astronauts to an asteroid in lunar orbit, with the help of NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. It will be the farthest humans have traveled in more than 40 years, and Orion will ultimately allow us to go even farther, including to destinations such as Mars.

.


Related Links
Commercial Space Transportation
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





UAV Payloads 2014, 24 - 25 June - London, UK
SPACE TRAVEL
Work on NASA's New Orion Spacecraft Progresses as Engineers Pivot to 2014
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Dec 29, 2013
Orion's first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1, is less than a year away now, and the team building the spacecraft is meeting milestones left and right as they prepare the vehicle for its debut. The Orion crew module that will fly 3,600 miles above Earth on the spacecraft's first mission is continuing to come together inside the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kenned ... read more


SPACE TRAVEL
'20 years of toil has paid off' Says Radhkrishnan

GSLV-D5 launch: What the success means

SpaceX launches second commercial satellite

Arianespace targets record year for rocket launches

SPACE TRAVEL
One-way trip to Mars? Sign me up, says Frenchwoman

Clues from Orbit Aiding Exploration Of Opportunity Rover

Decade-Old Rover Adventure Continues on Mars and Earth

More than 1,000 chosen for one-way Mars reality-TV mission

SPACE TRAVEL
Wake Up Yutu

Chang'e-3 satellite payload APXS obtained its first spectrum of lunar regolith

Chang'e 3 Lander and Rover From Above

China's moon rover "sleeps" through lunar night

SPACE TRAVEL
The Sounds of New Horizons

On the Path to Pluto, 5 AU and Closing

SwRI study finds that Pluto satellites' orbital ballet may hint of long-ago collisions

Archival Hubble Images Reveal Neptune's "Lost" Inner Moon

SPACE TRAVEL
Earth appears to be an oddity, astronomers say

Researchers use Hubble Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on alien world

NASA's Hubble Sees Cloudy Super-Worlds With Chance for More Clouds

Using an Atmosphere to Weigh a Planet

SPACE TRAVEL
Facility upgrades will support X-37B program

India launches cutting-edge cryogenic rocket

MAM produces plasma cavity for Helicon Double Layer Thruster Engine

Russia launches upgraded Soyuz rocket

SPACE TRAVEL
China launches communications satellite for Bolivia

China's moon rover continues lunar survey after photographing lander

China's Yutu "naps", awakens and explores

Deep space monitoring station abroad imperative

SPACE TRAVEL
The First Discovered Asteroid of 2014 Collides With The Earth - An Update

First Asteroid Discovered in 2014 Has Little Impact

Dawn passes halfway mark to Ceres

Dwarf Planet Ceres - 'A Game Changer in the Solar System'




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement