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Spaceship Mockup

NASA Dryden's mockup Orion crew module is located in Dryden's former Shuttle hangar. NASA photo by Tom Tschida.
by Gray Creech
Edwards CA (SPX) Nov 07, 2007
NASA's Orion spacecraft now in development is America's first new manned spacecraft since development of the space shuttle 30 years ago. It's the centerpiece of NASA's Constellation program, which aims to take the next generation of human explorers to the moon and beyond. Orion's launch abort system, a "rocket on top of the rocket," is designed to ensure the safety of its astronaut crew by pulling the crew module away from it's booster rocket in the event of a booster malfunction, either while on the launch pad or during ascent to orbit.

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California is leading the Orion launch abort system flight testing.

As part of this effort, NASA Dryden's Fabrication Branch constructed a mockup of the Orion crew module. More simplified than the actual spacecraft, the Orion mockup is the actual size of the real thing, inside and out.

Dryden is using the mockup to develop and verify integration and installation procedures for things like avionics, instrumentation, and wire harness routing in advance of the arrival of the first abort flight test article, called "Boilerplate 1." Boilerplates, in this sense of the term, are flying simulators used in early tests designed to mimic the flight characteristics of the actual vehicle. They have the exact dimensions, aerodynamic and mass properties of the operational vehicle they will simulate in flight, in this case the Orion crew module.

The mockup has no attached forward bay on it's top, but Dryden technicians are building one that will remain separate for parachute integration procedure development.

Two pad abort and four ascent abort flight tests of the launch abort system are planned, all unmanned, with the first scheduled for 2008 and continuing through 2011.

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Space Exploration 3.0 About To Begin
Vienna, Austria (SPX) Nov 05, 2007
Space exploration is about to enter a third age where nations will cooperate to explore the solar system. Nicolas Peter, a research fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), told the meeting in Vienna that the era of launching space missions to bolster national prestige was long past and that new opportunities for cooperation had emerged since the end of the Cold War. He predicted that an imminent third phase of space exploration could inspire nations to work together in a spirit of discovery.

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