Orion Phase 1 Drop Test
Engineers conducted the first test as part of Phase 1 of the Orion MPCV
boilerplate test article at NASA's Langley Research Center, on Oct. 18. The
18,000-pound (8,165 kg) test article -- representative of the Orion Crew Module -- was
drop tested at a 43-degree relative pitch angle and a 30-degree roll angle
and traveled at 27 mph (43 kph) horizontal velocity before splashing down in
the Hydro Impact Basin.
These test conditions represent an off-nominal splashdown following an
ascent abort scenario and include predictions of rough seas.
As predicted through analytical simulations, the capsule pitched forward and
came to rest in a Stable 2 (upside down) position during the test.
"It is important to understand the different scenarios in contingency water
landings," said project manager Lynn Bowman. "This is why we have a crew
module up-righting system designed for the actual flight vehicle."
Since initial Phase 0 testing this summer, the Phase 1 boilerplate test
article was modified so that it is more representative of the actual flight
Modifications to the test article included removal of Phase 0 reinforcement
structure to configure the heat shield to now be flexible instead of rigid.
The change in heat shield configuration will allow engineers to assess
structural response of the heat shield structure versus analytical
predictions, and to simulate the flight vehicle load paths to assess load
distribution throughout the test article due to water impact.
Five more drop tests are planned through the end of the year with varying
impact angles and velocities.
NASA Langley Research Center