NASA has conducted a series of tests with Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne to evaluate the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket that the agency plans to launch in 2018 as part of an unmanned space exploration mission.
Lockheed’s engineering teams have completed proof pressure tests on the Orion crew module at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for Exploration Mission-1, Orbital ATK said Thursday.
Lockheed and NASA also have conducted studies at Langley Research Center in Virginia to evaluate the potential impact of water landing scenarios on the crew.
Orbital ATK said it completed qualification tests of the SLS rocket booster in June at its Utah-based facility.
Two Orbital ATK-built five-segment boosters will work to provide initial thrust to facilitate the launch of the SLS rocket and Orion space vehicle into deep space.
Aerojet Rocketdyne performed tests on the RS-25 development engine 0528 in July and August and conducted live fire tests of the jettison motor for the spacecraft’s Launch Abort System in August.
Boeing has completed welding work on qualification test elements of the liquid hydrogen tank as part of the SLS rocket’s core stage and will deliver the elements to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Florida for integration in preparation for structural loads qualification tests.
“As NASA readies for the next stage of testing, flight hardware for the first mission is in production for both the core stage and the interim cryogenic propulsion stage,” said Jacqueline Nesselroad, director of Boeing operations at Michoud assembly facility in Louisiana.
NASA will also subject the Orion spacecraft’s entry parachute system to a series of eight qualification drop tests that seek to simulate different landing scenarios.
The space vehicle’s parachute system is designed to reduce the re-entry speed of the Orion crew capsule from 25,000 miles per hour to 20 mph.