Yesterday, 3 October 2014, the first component of the Launch Abort System was mated to the Orion capsule in the preparation for the EFT-1 Mission. The LAS will be used to rapidly move the crew capsule away from the malfunctioning rocket in the event of a catastrophic anomaly. In EFT-1, the LAS will be used to verify its separation procedures once it is no longer needed.
Once the LAS had been integrated to the capsule, the entire assembly will be moved to Launch Complex 37 in early November for mating with the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. The rocket arrived at the pad last week, marking the start of pad flow operations.
Earlier this morning (1 October, 2014) the Delta IV Heavy rocket for the Exploration Flight Test 1 mission was erected at Launch Complex 37. The booster has been in assembly at the Horizontal Integration Facility for the last few months. Last week, the rocket’s four major components were mated together, which I covered in this post. Rollout was delayed for a few days due to unfavorable weather at the Cape.
The Orion capsule will be mated to the vehicle once it is mated to the Launch Abort System. Last Sunday (28 September) Orion was moved from the Payload Hazardous Processing Facility, where it was fueled with propellants, to the Launch Abort System Facility for this crucial step. the spacecraft will roll out to Complex 37 near the end of this month for mating to the Delta IV, beginning integrated preflight testing. If all milestones are met without significant error, launch will take place at 7:05 AM EST, December 4th.
Images courtesy of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Goodness, that is a beautiful thing! Next time I’m depressed, someone remind me to go look at rockets.
With the first flight of the Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle slated for launch slightly more than two months from now, the two major components for Exploration Flight Test 1 passed major milestones this week.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Module was moved from the Payload Hazardous Processing Facility to the Launch Abort System Facility yesterday (September 28), where it will be mated to its protective launch shroud and abort system. The second image shows the spacecraft shortly after leaving the PHPF.
A few days go, the first and second stages of the Delta IV heavy rocket were mated in the Horizontal Integration Facility at Launch Complex 37. The first image shows the second stage of the Delta launch vehicle shortly before mating to the core stage of the booster in the HIF.
Rollout of the Delta IV vehicle was supposed to be this week, but weather is delaying the process into the first full week of October. Orion is slated to join the vehicle on the pad sometime in early November for integration checks and final testing. If all goes according to schedule, launch will occur at 7:05 AM, December 4.
More information regarding the Delta IV booster integration here.
Imagine how it would look if the Orion nebula is only four light years away - the distance the nearest star is to us, instead of 1,300 light years. It would be so bright that we wouldn’t be aware of the dark sky. We wouldn’t see other stars. The whole world would be the Orion nebula and the sun.
The largest spacecraft welding tool in the world, the Vertical Assembly Center, officially is open for business at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The 170-foot-tall, 78-foot-wide giant completes a world-class welding toolkit that will be used to build the core stage of America’s next great rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).
Sudden urge to learn welding….
NASA Completes Key Review of World’s Most Powerful Rocket in Support of Journey to Mars
NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous review of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the heavy-lift, exploration class rocket under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars — and approved the program’s progression from formulation to development, something no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.
"We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey."
For its first flight test, SLS will be configured for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. In its most powerful configuration, SLS will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons), which will enable missions even farther into our solar system, including such destinations as an asteroid and Mars.
This decision comes after a thorough review known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), which provides a development cost baseline for the 70-metric ton version of the SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the first launch and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018.
Conservative cost and schedule commitments outlined in the KDP-C align the SLS program with program management best practices that account for potential technical risks and budgetary uncertainty beyond the program’s control.
“Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right,” said Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who oversaw the review process. “After rigorous review, we’re committing today to a funding level and readiness date that will keep us on track to sending humans to Mars in the 2030s – and we’re going to stand behind that commitment.”
"The Space Launch System Program has done exemplary work during the past three years to get us to this point," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We will keep the teams working toward a more ambitious readiness date, but will be ready no later than November 2018.”
The SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations programs each conduct a design review prior to each program’s respective KDP-C, and each program will establish cost and schedule commitments that account for its individual technical requirements.
"We are keeping each part of the program — the rocket, ground systems, and Orion — moving at its best possible speed toward the first integrated test launch,” said Bill Hill, director Exploration Systems Development at NASA. "We are on a solid path toward an integrated mission and making progress in all three programs every day."
“Engineers have made significant technical progress on the rocket and have produced hardware for all elements of the SLS program,” said SLS program manager Todd May. “The team members deserve an enormous amount of credit for their dedication to building this national asset.”
The program delivered in April the first piece of flight hardware for Orion’s maiden flight, Exploration Flight Test-1 targeted for December. This stage adapter is of the same design that will be used on SLS’s first flight, Exploration Mission-1.
Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has all major tools installed and is producing hardware, including the first pieces of flight hardware for SLS. Sixteen RS-25 engines, enough for four flights, currently are in inventory at Stennis Space Center, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where an engine is already installed and ready for testing this fall. NASA contractor ATK has conducted successful test firings of the five-segment solid rocket boosters and is preparing for the first qualification motor test.
SLS will be the world’s most capable rocket. In addition to opening new frontiers for explorers traveling aboard the Orion capsule, the SLS may also offer benefits for science missions that require its use and can’t be flown on commercial rockets.
The next phase of development for SLS is the Critical Design Review, a programmatic gate that reaffirms the agency’s confidence in the program planning and technical risk posture.
TOP IMAGE….Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration launching to space. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC
LOWER IMAGE…This artist concept shows NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, rolling to a launchpad at Kennedy Space Center at night. SLS will be the most powerful rocket in history, and the flexible, evolvable design of this advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle will meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC
That’s a beautiful night rendering of rollout.
Inside the Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians dressed in clean-room suits have installed a back shell tile panel onto the Orion crew module and are checking the fit next to the middle back shell tile panel. Preparations are underway for Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch later this year atop a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to an altitude of 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface. The two-orbit, four-hour flight test will help engineers evaluate the systems critical to crew safety including the heat shield, parachute system and launch abort system.
Orion takes shape:
The Orion crew module for Exploration Flight Test-1 is shown in the Final Assembly and System Testing (FAST) Cell, positioned over the service module just prior to mating the two sections together. The FAST cell is where the integrated crew and service modules are put through their final system tests prior to rolling out of the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Technicians are in position to assist with the final alignment steps once the crew module is nearly in contact with the service module. In December, Orion will launch 3,600 miles into space in a four-hour flight to test the systems that will be critical for survival in future human missions to deep space.
Image Credit: NASA
I was born in 1969. I grew up in awe of astronauts, the Saturn V, and the Apollo program. Still, it startles me how Orion and the SLS reach deep inside me and reignite that childhood excitement. I can’t wait until they light this candle.
The upper three photos show the Orion water recovery test vehicle before and after its test operations last august. The rest of the images show the capsule and hardware for the Exploration Flight Test 1 mission scheduled for December, 2014. It is the first flight-ready Orion capsule, and is in final assembly at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
IT’S HAPPENING! OMGOMGOMG! SPACESHIP!!!
What’s in a name? Part I
In my High School debate tournaments there was this kid with a out of this world name - something like Orion Cosmos.
You’d think with a name like that, this poor kid would kinda look like somebody who’d been teased a lot. Who shrugged when spoken to, who would hate to introduce himself during roll call, who would dread the question “So what kind of name is THAT?”
And it was the opposite. Orion Cosmos was awesome. Everybody liked him. He was happy to introduce himself and his weird name. He was magnetic, and was famous in debate circles for learning circular breathing: he could breath while he spoke and thus didn’t have to pause to take breathes during speech debates. His confidence was endearing and infectious.
That kid totally owned his name. Reminds me of Die Hard, when John McClane was figuring out Zeus Carver’s name for the first time: “Zeus?” “Yeah Zeus! As in, father of Apollo? Mt. Olympus? Don’t fuck with me or I’ll shove a lightning bolt up your ass? Zeus! You got a problem with that?” “No, I don’t have a problem with that.” Zeus Carver definitely knew who he was and one of the reasons why Die Hard II was better than the original.
In high school we’re trying to figure out how to be social. There were kids who tried everything to get friends: wear the trendiest clothes, get the latest gadgets, gossip, do whatever their friends said so they could be part of the club. Then there were the kids who had come into their own, who knew who they were and what they wanted. The latter kids were naturally attractive and popular. And the former kids, well I think most of us figured it out by adulthood: trying to please everyone isn’t attractive.
Being who you were meant to be is naturally attractive. It doesn’t matter if you have a weird name like Orion Cosmos or Zeus Carver, or your age or ability. We all admire people who come into their own, from all walks of life. They know their insecurities, and have some control over them instead of ignoring them and being controlled by insecurity.
In part II, I’ll talk about changing the name of Unitarian Universalism, and why this all matters, but I’m sure you can make some connections yourself.
Now I want to change the family name to Cosmos.