Orion made her first appearance this week. Lockheed Martin introduced the spacecraft and the company’s Space Operations Simulation Center, marking progress in NASA’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle program.
“Our nation’s next bold step in exploration could begin by 2016,” said John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin’s Human Space Flight programs. “Orion was designed from inception to fly multiple, deep-space missions. The spacecraft is an incredibly robust, technically advanced vehicle capable of safely transporting humans to asteroids, Lagrange Points and other deep space destinations that will put us on an affordable and sustainable path to Mars.”
A throwback to Apollo, the Orion spacecraft is designed for budget, safety and reuse in propelling humans back into space exploration. Orion will deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station, where she can dock for up to six months. The spacecraft will also return humans to the moon, and take them on to Mars and beyond. Orion is expected to complete its first orbital flight test by 2013.
To test and develop Orion, Lockheed built the SOSC. Built on bedrock isolated from seismic disturbances to ensure stability, the facility is LEED Gold certified. SOSC supports testing on Orion’s navigation and docking systems, including Sensor Test for Orion RelNav Risk Mitigation. STORRM is scheduled for testing on April’s STS-134 shuttle mission.
With the ultimate destination of Mars in mind, Lockheed created Stepping Stones, mission scenarios on asteroids, the moon’s Lagrangian Point, the moons of Mars and the Martian surface.