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NASA Glenn Expertise Instrumental in Orion Spacecraft

Space exploration projects like Orion require putting together a top team of scientists and engineers from all the NASA centers across the United States.  Experts from NASA’s Glenn Research Center have been an instrumental part of the team working to ensure the success of the upcoming exploration flight test of Orion on December 4.

Glenn’s contributions were essential to the design and development of many of the spacecraft systems including structures, mechanisms, pyrotechnics, propulsion, thermal, materials, power and avionics.  Early in the design of Orion, Glenn conducted wind tunnel testing to validate the aerodynamics of the launch abort system.  It directly contributed to Orion’s electrical power system and power distribution design, the crew and service module structure, the crew module thermal protection system, and many of the spacecraft mechanisms including those for fairing separation, the umbilical and the crew and service module retention and release.

The first flight will demonstrate the spacecraft’s capabilities and provide critical test data on the performance of the flight systems. It will also validate the designs of the spacecraft to learn as much as possible before Orion carries humans on future missions into deep space.

“We are excited to see the launch of Orion’s first flight and look forward to the results to determine how they will validate the computer models we’ve used at Glenn and how they influence the final design of the vehicle,” said Jim Free, Glenn’s center director.

Testing of Orion is the first step in NASA’s bold new mission to design and build the capability to extend human existence to deep space. Engineers will be watching how Orion performs during some of the most critical moments of the flight, including the separation of the Launch Abort System, fairings surrounding the spacecraft and the crew module, along with reentry through Earth’s atmosphere.

NASA is committed to human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit and the continued development of its next generation spacecraft –Orion. Orion is the first spacecraft in history that will be capable of taking humans to multiple destinations within deep space. It will allow exploration throughout the solar system, to an asteroid and to Mars. No other spacecraft in the world offers this capability.