Orion Crew capsule targeted for 2014 leap to high orbit

Mar 21, 2012 By Ken Kremer, Universe Today
The Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) is scheduled to launch the first unmanned Orion crew cabin into a high altitude Earth orbit in 2014 atop a Delta 4 Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Artist’s concept. Credit: NASA See below a new NASA animation depicting the Orion EFT-1 Test Flight

NASA is on course to make the highest leap in human spaceflight in nearly 4 decades when an unmanned Orion crew capsule blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a high stakes, high altitude test flight in early 2014.

A new narrated animation (see below) released by depicts the planned 2014 of the on the Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission to the highest altitude orbit reached by a spaceship intended for humans since the Apollo Moon landing Era.

Orion is NASA’s next generation human rated spacecraft and designed for missions to again take humans to destinations beyond low Earth orbit- to the Moon, Mars, Asteroids and Beyond to deep space.

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Lockheed Martin Space Systems is making steady progress constructing the Orion crew cabin that will launch atop a Delta 4 Heavy booster rocket on a two orbit to an altitude of more than 3,600 miles and test the majority of Orion’s vital vehicle systems.

The capsule will then separate from the upper stage, re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at a speed exceeding 20,000 MPH, deploy a trio of huge parachutes and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of California.

Lockheed Martin is responsible for conducting the critical EFT-1 flight under contract to NASA.

Orion will reach an altitude 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) circling in low orbit some 250 miles above Earth and provide highly valuable in-flight engineering data that will be crucial for continued development of the .

Exploration Flight Test One Overview. Credit: NASA

“This is a challenge. It will be difficult. We have a lot of confidence in our design, but we are certain that we will find out things we do not know,” said NASA’s Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer.

“Having the opportunity to do that early in our development is invaluable, because it will allow us to make adjustments now and address them much more efficiently than if we find changes are needed later. Our measure of success for this test will be in how we apply all of those lessons as we move forward.”

Lockheed Martin is nearing completion of the initial assembly of the Orion EFT-1 capsule at NASA’s historic Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, which for three decades built all of the huge External Fuel Tanks for the NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

In May, the Orion will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly and eventual integration atop the Delta 4 Heavy rocket booster and launch from Space Launch Complex 37 at nearby . The Delta 4 is built by United Launch Alliance.

The first integrated launch of an uncrewed Orion is scheduled for 2017 on the first flight of NASA’s new heavy lift rocket, the SLS or Space Launch System that will replace the now retired Space Shuttle orbiters

Continued progress on Orion, the SLS and all other NASA programs – manned and unmanned – is fully dependent on the funding level of NASA’s budget which has been significantly slashed by political leaders of both parties in Washington, DC in recent years.

Explore further: Watch the Falcon 9 rocket booster descend into the ocean for its "soft" landing (w/ Video)

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Egleton
1 / 5 (2) Mar 22, 2012
Let me guess. The real prize is L4 and 5. Why would you escape one gravity well only to voluntarily fall down another?

And hence our interest in Vesta. It is a humongous source of raw materials that are not at the bottom of a significant gravity well.

Gerrard K O'Neil showed that there is room for 30 000 times the Earth's Population at the Lagrange points. And there are many Lagrange points in the Cosmos.
The great prize is the Lagrange points. There will be many orders of magnitude more people living at L4 than on the surface of this planet.
Forget planetary surfaces. They are just a force of habit.
Nobodies saying what everybody knows.
Pkunk_
5 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
Just the solar potential at these points is enormous.
Unlike the piss poor solar infrastructure countries are wasting their money on , you can actually power whole space stations 24/7/365 on just solar power on the Lagrange points.

Pretty much Free Power , probably enough to convert volatiles extracted from the Moon/Asteroids into fuel. No need to depends on Earth for fuel also then.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
you can actually power whole space stations 24/7/365 on just solar power on the Lagrange points.

Earth-Sun L4 and L5 are at the same distance as Earth (so get no more solar radiation than Earth does. L1, L2 and L3 aren't even stable (though you can orbit the points in a stable manner). L3 is as far away from the sun as Earth is. L2 is even further out (so it gets even less sun). The only Lagrange Point that gets more sun is L1. But it is only 1% closer to the sun than the Earth is, so for an equivalent surface area of solar panel you get a measly 2% more power.

The only real advantage is the 24/7 aspect - and that isn't much of one given that that would apply to anything in Earth orbit as well - and from orbit you have MUCH less of a hassle to travel from/to Earth for resources.
Pkunk_
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2012
The only real advantage is the 24/7 aspect - and that isn't much of one given that that would apply to anything in Earth orbit as well - and from orbit you have MUCH less of a hassle to travel from/to Earth for resources.


The only challenge to space based solar power is that the market is on Earth. So you need to transmit the power down to Earth and there is a lot of energy wasted apart from the risks of microwave energy beams.
But if the market is within the space station itself, you can use 100% of the solar constant , 100% of the time. On Earth , the solar constant of 1366W/m^2 is actually 30-50% less than in space because of the weather , atmospheric effects and other variables like latitude.
So in space the same solar cell is going to give 30% more * 3 times = almost 4 times the output over a 24 hour period.

The only problem was the lack of a market , which can be solved by moving the market itself to space.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2012
The only challenge to space based solar power is that the market is on Earth

No. The challenge (or the show-stopper to be precise) is that you'd need to get crazy amounts of material into space (and keep it there). Rocket launches aren't environmentally friendly. I did the calcs on this on another forum: about 100000 rocket launches per year (to replace aging/degrading panels) and 1000 times overkill of the Earth's ozone layer in the process. Oh - and did I mention the 400 trillion dollars this would cost to set up and the 4 trillion a year to keep it running? And the possibility that with one solar storm we'd be back in the stone age?

And the really crazy thing is: Burning the rocket fuel on the ground to produce the energy would be cheaper, more environmentally friendly and safer - by orders of magnitude.

Until we have a (REALLY!) cheap way to orbit this is a no-go.
Pkunk_
not rated yet Mar 26, 2012
The only challenge to space based solar power is that the market is on Earth

I did the calcs on this on another forum: about 100000 rocket launches per year (to replace aging/degrading panels)


You need to only build a small space station to start with . One with a solar refinery and a solar panel manufacturing unit. Once a few rockets are placed in zero g they can go about ferrying "free" raw material from the asteroid belt . In this model you only need to ferry stuff from Earth which can't be made at the space station itself. Even food can be cultivated to a great extent.

Keep in mind that everything we need is available using current tech except a rocket that can be reused for 100's of mission runs to the asteroid belt. Since you don't need to enter a gravity sink it's just a matter of the right design.