Orion AA-2 Crew Module Painted For Flight

A new Orion capsule is being moved from the Flight Test Article Development and Intergration Facility, Building 1232 at NASA Langley, where it was constructed, to Langley Airforce Base where it will be painted. Image credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

February 7, 2018 – The Orion crew module for the Ascent Abort Test 2 (AA-2) was transported from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to the Joint Base Langley-Eustis Friday, January 26, for a fresh coat of paint before final testing and shipment to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Specific flight test markings are being painted on the crew module to allow for attitude and trajectory data collection during launch.

Next, the capsule will be tested to determine its mass and weight, and also its center of gravity or balance, and then delivered to Johnson for integration and additional testing.

The crew module to be used for the test, fabricated at Langley, is a simplified representation designed to match the outer shape and approximate mass distribution of the Orion crew module that astronauts will fly in.

During AA-2, planned for April 2019, the launch abort system will be activated during challenging ascent conditions at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test will validate the launch abort system’s ability to get crew to safety if needed during ascent.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Orion spacecraft is being prepared for its first uncrewed integrated flight test atop the Space Launch System rocket. During Orion Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the spacecraft will travel thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week period. The mission lays the foundation for the first crewed flight of SLS and Orion, as well as a regular cadence of missions thereafter near the Moon and beyond. EM-1 is projected to launch in 2019 or 2020.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colorado, is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.