NASA conducted a ceremony at the Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, run by the Glenn Research Center, to mark the completion of environmental testing of the Orion spacecraft that will fly the Artemis 1 mission
FREMONT, CA: The Orion spacecraft scheduled to fly on the first launch of the Space Launch System has completed testing at an Ohio facility and will soon be shipped out to the Kennedy Space Center for final launch preparations. NASA conducted a ceremony at the Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, run by the Glenn Research Center, to mark the completion of environmental testing of the Orion spacecraft that will fly the Artemis 1 mission. The spacecraft arrived in Plum Brook in November 2019, for thermal vacuum and electromagnetic environment testing.
"The tests were extremely successful," said Jules Schneider, director of assembly, test, and launch operations for Orion at Lockheed Martin. "The thermal vacuum tests, where the spacecraft was subjected to temperatures ranging from about –155 to 150 degrees Celsius, were completed in 47 days instead of the planned 63 days." The spacecraft also went through an electromagnetic interference and compatibility of spacecraft systems tests. However, these took longer than expected, being completed in 13 days instead of the planned 8.
The tests did not reveal any significant issues with the spacecraft. “We learned some things, but nothing jumped out at us. We didn’t discover anything that was going to pose major problems for us to operate the spacecraft, things that would force us to go back in and either change the design or the location of anything,” said Jules. The spacecraft will now be moved back to the Kennedy Space Center on a Super Guppy aircraft. The final processing for its launch will be completed at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.
Currently, Lockheed is preparing to continue the work despite the growing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. While access to the Kennedy Space Center is not restricted, center officials have agreed to consider Orion's work to be essential. This means that staff can continue to go on-site even if the center institutes mandatory telework. The spacecraft is expected to be formally handed over to ground systems contractor Jacobs in June. Once the handover is complete, it will mark the end of Lockheed’s work on the spacecraft under its contract. Jacobs will then be responsible for launch preparations, such as fueling the spacecraft and later integrating the spacecraft with the SLS.
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