Lockheed Martin powers up next Orion spacecraft for first time

August 23, 2017 by Lockheed Martin, Lockheed Martin
Powering-on and testing the computers for the first time marks a major milestone in Orion’s march toward its EM-1 flight. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Engineers at Lockheed Martin and NASA breathed life into the next Orion crew module when they powered up the spacecraft for the first time at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Designed for human spaceflight, this Orion will be the first to fly more than 40,000 miles beyond the Moon during its nearly three-week Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), a feat that hasn't been possible before.

"Orion was designed from the beginning to take humanity farther into space than we've ever gone, and to do this, its systems have to be very robust and reliable," said Mike Hawes, vice president and Orion program manager at Lockheed Martin. "Over the last year, we've built great momentum in assembling the for EM-1. Everyone on the team understands how crucial this test campaign is, and more importantly, what this spacecraft and mission means to our country and future ."

The initial power-on event was the first time the vehicle management computers and the power and data units were installed on the crew module, loaded with flight software and tested. Evaluating these core systems, thought of as the "brain and heart" of the Orion capsule, is the first step in testing all of the crew module subsystems.

Although astronauts will not fly in this capsule on this flight, a large majority of the subsystems and avionics are the same design that astronauts will rely on during following missions with Orion into the solar system. Launching on NASA's Space Launch System—the most powerful rocket in the world—the EM-1 flight is critical to confirming the Orion spacecraft and all of its interdependent systems operate as designed in the unforgiving environment of deep space.

With the successful initial power on behind them, engineers and technicians will now continue integrating the 55 components that make up the spacecraft avionics suite, connecting them with nearly 400 harnesses. Over the course of the next two to three months, as each system is installed, they will perform thorough functional tests to ensure Orion is ready to move to the all-important environmental testing phase.

NASA's Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle is the world's first human-rated spacecraft designed for long-duration, deep space exploration. Orion will transport humans to interplanetary destinations beyond low Earth orbit, including the Moon and eventually Mars. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor to NASA for Orion, and is responsible for the design, build, testing, launch processing and mission operations of the spacecraft. Orion is managed out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Explore further: NASA evaluates how crew will exit Orion spacecraft

Related Stories

NASA evaluates how crew will exit Orion spacecraft

July 19, 2017

When astronauts return to Earth from destinations beyond the moon in NASA's Orion spacecraft and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, they'll still need to safely get out of the spacecraft and back on dry land. Using the waters ...

NASA simulates Orion spacecraft launch conditions for crew

January 25, 2017

In a lab at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineers simulated conditions that astronauts in space suits would experience when the Orion spacecraft is vibrating during launch atop the agency's powerful Space Launch ...

Recommended for you

Exploring planetary plasma environments from your laptop

June 15, 2018

A new database of plasma simulations, combined with observational data and powerful visualisation tools, is providing planetary scientists with an unprecedented way to explore some of the Solar System's most interesting plasma ...

NASA encounters the perfect storm for science

June 14, 2018

One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA's Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft ...

The most distant radio galaxy discovered

June 14, 2018

An international team of astronomers has detected a new high-redshift radio galaxy (HzRG). The newly identified HzRG, designated TGSS1530, was found at a redshift of 5.72, meaning that it is the most distant radio galaxy ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

szore88
1 / 5 (2) Aug 23, 2017
22 Trillion in debt, can't balance a budget, but we're going to Mars. Riiigghhhttt...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.