Text Size

› Download Vodcast (172MB)
NE@The Orion FTA

Featuring: The Orion Flight Test Article at NASA Langley Research Center

Synopsis: NASA EDGE meets with Amanda Cutright, an engineer working with the Orion FTA, here at NASA Langley Research Center. Chris asks key questions as the final adjustments are made before the FTA is transported via C-17 to NASA Dryden. Though this particular flight test article is “unmanned,” NASA EDGE gives you the outside and inside look at this essential piece of hardware.

CHRIS: Welcome to NASA EDGE, an inside and outside look at all things NASA. We’re here with Amanda, an engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. She’s going to talk to us today about the Orion flight test article. Hi, Amanda.

AMANDA: Hi, how are you doing?

CHRIS: What is a flight test article?

AMANDA: There are a whole series of flight tests that they have to do before the can certify all the components of the Aries project before astronauts can ride in the vehicle.

CHRIS: Cool. This particular flight test article is going to be used on an upcoming test? It’s call Pad Abort One.

AMANDA: That’s correct.

CHRIS: It will take place at the end of the year?

AMANDA: Right.

CHRIS: Do we have seats inside, astronauts inside? Is it manned or unmanned?

AMANDA: No, not on this flight test article. It’s designed to be a crude mock-up to show the outer shape and the mass properties. So the mass and center of gravity that relate to the operational vehicle. This has some substance in it but no seats. Nobody rides in this one.

CHRIS: How much does this weigh?

AMANDA: Right now, it’s about 11,000 lbs. and on the day of launch it will be right about 18,000 lbs.

CHRIS: That’s equivalent to the actual Ares 1-X with the Orion crew module onboard will be about 18,000 pounds?

AMANDA: Yeah, it’s a ballpark there.

CHRIS: Give me the dimensions, here. How wide is this and how tall is it?

AMANDA: It’s about 11 feet tall and 16 ½ feet in diameter.

CHRIS: My co-host is really short. You could probably fit about four or five of him in there.

AMANDA: Oh really? You probably could.

CHRIS: He’s supposed to be on the shoot today but for some reason he didn’t show up.

AMANDA: Really!

CHRIS: That’s why I’m going solo today.


CHRIS: Is this an aluminum structure here?

AMANDA: Yes, the majority is aluminum. There’s some ballast pieces in there made of steel and some of composite.

CHRIS: Since there’s no seats, no electronics on the inside, what’s actually inside this right now?

AMANDA: Right now, there’s flooring, two pieces you can step on but not much. We’ve put down some temporary flooring to walk around. And it has three vertical I-beams going through the middle. It has sections to mount for avionics, and DFI and other subsystems that will go into inside.

CHRIS: Is this completely sealed?

AMANDA: Right now, yes. We’re getting ready to ship out. We’re going through all of our final checklists before it ships out to Dryden.

CHRIS: What’s Dryden going to be doing with it?

AMANDA: Dryden will be installing the subsystems prior to going to the launch site.

CHRIS: Great teamwork in action.

AMANDA: Oh yes. Absolutely.

CHRIS: You’ve been working on this for a couple of years?

AMANDA: That’s correct.

CHRIS: From start to finish?

AMANDA: Yes. I was in a little bit on the conceptual side. We had a small design team and we’ve certainly grown.

CHRIS: You must be very happy to see a piece of hardware.

AMANDA: Oh yes. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to go from an engineering program and see where you’re building a CAD model and then where it goes to actual hardware pieces, fabricated to the assembly…

CHRIS: Can you excuse me? It’s Blair. Hello.

BLAIR: Hey Chris. All my exercise paid off. You won’t believe…

CHRIS: Where are you? I’m interviewing Amanda right now.

BLAIR: Yeah, I know. I’m nearby. I’m inside the flight test article. I’ve squeezed my way in. It’s great, cramped but great.

CHRIS: Blair says he’s inside the capsule.

AMANDA: He’s inside the capsule right now?

CHRIS: He said the capsule weighs 150 lbs more than the 11,000 lbs.

BLAIR: One hundred forty pounds.

AMANDA: Okay, we’ll account for that on our mass sheet. Tell him I’m sorry. He’s going to have to stay in there. We’ve already gone through our…

CHRIS: Amanda said it’s sealed. You’re not coming out.

AMANDA: We took the measurement with him in there.

CHRIS: The measurement is with you in there. You can’t leave.

BLAIR: That doesn’t make sense.

AMANDA: They’re not going to take the hatch off. We don’t have time.

CHRIS: What’s that?

BLAIR: That’s not going to make sense because I need food. Can you take some jello and squeeze it through a seam?

CHRIS: Can you get some jello between the cracks so he can squeeze through?

AMANDA: I don’t know. There’s a little hole right there. We can give you some food but… We’ll weigh it before we put it in.

CHRIS: It’s going out to Dryden.

BLAIR: What did you say? Dryden? Do I get mileage? Free miles?

CHRIS: You don’t have to use the facilities, do you?

BLAIR: Not until you said that. Thanks very little.

AMANDA: He’s going to have to hold it.

CHRIS: There’s nothing there. I gotta go man. I’ll contact you in about a week or so and hopefully you’ll come out okay.

BLAIR: What do you mean?

CHRIS: All right, talk to you soon.

AMANDA: That will be all right. It will be a good test practice.

CHRIS: Absolutely.

AMANDA: We’ll have to write a report on how that comes out.

CHRIS: Amanda, thank you so much.

AMANDA: Nice meeting you. Thank you.

CHRIS: You’re watching NASA Edge, an inside and outside look at all things NASA.


BLAIR: Chris, tell me you did not leave the hangar.


BLAIR: Aah! I wish I could remember Morse code. Dash. I can’t go to Dryden like this. That’s crazy.

› Download Vodcast (172MB)