Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Space Travel News .




SPACE TRAVEL
Orion Tests Set Stage for Mission
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 01, 2014


Astronauts Doug Hurley and Rex Walheim examine Orion and a section of the black back shell tiles that will be installed on spacecraft now that the testing of the stacked crew and service module is complete. Image courtesy NASA.

NASA's Orion spacecraft is not quite ready for liftoff, but the spacecraft thinks it's already flown six missions. Since Orion's crew module was stacked on top of its service module in June, the vehicle has been put through a series of tests designed to verify all the individual systems work on their own in the new configuration and that they'll work together as a functional unit during flight.

And the best way to do that is to trick the vehicle into thinking that it's flying, so that it will perform exactly the same functions it will be called upon to perform in December, when Orion launches into space for the first time.

For that flight, Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will travel 3,600 miles above the Earth - farther than any spacecraft built to carry people has traveled in more than 40 years - and return home at speeds of 20,000 miles per hour, while enduring temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

It will be literally a trial by fire, intended to prove that Orion can carry humans into deep space and safely return them home. But to ensure that Orion comes through it successfully, the team here on the ground wants to shake out any bugs now.

"We have ground simulation units that make the vehicle think it's somewhere it's not," said Scott Wilson, manager of production operations for Orion. "We give the GPS and inertial measurement units vehicle commands and data that simulate flight. For example, we simulate the jettison of the launch abort system, and air pressure on the measurement probes. We make the vehicle think it's experiencing all those things it sees in flight."

In doing so, the engineers and technicians who have been building Orion at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida are able to verify that when the vehicle sees the events that it's expected to encounter in flight, it will respond appropriately. The simulations are not a substitute for flying in space, but it's as close as possible to get before launch.

"This is our first opportunity to see the real spacecraft perform," Flight Director Mike Sarafin said. "You can design something on paper or in a lab, but until you put it all together and see how it works, you only have an idea of what it might look like. When you test the real system, you know what it will do."

As the lead flight director for Exploration Flight Test-1, Sarafin has been following the tests with special interest. Along with his flight control team, which will oversee the flight from the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, he's also used the testing as an opportunity to test his skills.

They started with the simulation of problem-free flight for Orion, and then they began adding in problems to deal with. As the first flight of a brand-new spacecraft, the flight controllers have to be prepared for things to go wrong.

If Orion fails to separate automatically from the launch vehicle's upper stage before reentry, what happens? If the high radiation Orion will see as it travels through the Van Allen Radiation Belts knocks out some of the avionics, what will Orion do, and how will the flight control team respond? To that end, they tested dozens of failure scenarios.

"These scenarios have helped us understand not only the spacecraft itself, but also the ground component," Sarafin said. "The two have to work together, and with these tests, we've built a lot of confidence that we'll be able to do that."

In all, the vehicle and its engineers, technicians and flight control team have now gone through six simulated missions together - one without challenges and five with various simulated failures. Through them all, Sarafin and Wilson agreed, both Orion and the team performed well, which gives them the confidence to move on to the next step in Orion's construction: the back shell.

The black thermal protection tiles that make up Orion's back shell are some of the last elements that remain to be added before the crew module is complete. The make up the outer layer on the top section of Orion, and their installation would have blocked access to systems that might have needed repairs during the past weeks of testing.

The team will now add the back shell and the forward bay cover that protects it until the end of the mission, before starting the next series of tests.

.


Related Links
NASA
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





SPACE TRAVEL
First synthetic biological leaf could allow humans to colonize space
London, UK (Voice of Russia) Aug 01, 2014
In order for humans to live in outer space, they must have a steady supply of oxygen they can depend on. Now, instead of relying on plants that may not survive, they can use an artificial biological leaf designed by a London graduate student. Julian Melchiorri, a graduate student in innovation design engineering at the UK's Royal College of Art, created the synthetic leaf, which he called ... read more


SPACE TRAVEL
AsiaSat 8 Successfully Lifts Off

SpaceX launches AsiaSat8 into orbit via Falcon 9 rocket

United Launch Alliance Launches Two Rockets in Just Four Days

United Launch Alliance Marks 85th Successful Launch

SPACE TRAVEL
NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Nears Mountain-Base Outcrop

Absence of Russia Instrument On NASA Mars Rover Not Political

Mars 2020 rover will carry tools to make oxygen

NASA Mars Curiosity Rover: Two Years and Counting on Red Planet

SPACE TRAVEL
Manned Moon Mission to Cost Russia $2.8 Bln

Tidal forces gave moon its shape

Riddle of bulging Moon solved at last

China's biggest moon challenge: returning to earth

SPACE TRAVEL
Putting It All Together

Annual Checkout Makes for Great Pluto Preparation

In exactly one year, NASA's New Horizons probe will reach Pluto

What If Voyager Had Explored Pluto?

SPACE TRAVEL
Young binary star system may form planets with weird and wild orbits

Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets

Astronomers come up dry in search for water on exoplanets

Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets

SPACE TRAVEL
'Impossible' engine may actually work, NASA engineers suggest

Federal auditors say NASA doesn't have funds for big rocket

World's Largest Spacecraft Welding Tool Will Build Core Stage of NASA's Space Launch System

Sierra Nevada Contacts All Six On-Orbit ORBCOMM Generation 2 Satellites

SPACE TRAVEL
China's Circumlunar Spacecraft Unmasked

China to launch HD observation satellite this year

Lunar rock collisions behind Yutu damage

China's Fast Track To Circumlunar Mission

SPACE TRAVEL
Dawn navigates mini-asteroid belt

Rosetta Takes Comet's Temperature

How Rosetta arrives at a comet

New NASA Research Shows Giant Asteroids Battered Early Earth




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news 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 All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.