June 28, 2017 – NASA’s Orion program is evaluating an updated design to the crew module uprighting system, the system of five airbags on top of the capsule that inflate upon splashdown. In high waves or wind over the ocean, the uprighting bags are responsible for turning Orion right side up if the capsule lands upside down or turns over when it returns to Earth.
Engineers have retooled the design of the bags after they didn’t properly inflate during Exploration Flight Test-1. The testing is taking place at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson, where the team is performing eight tests evaluating the bags during both normal inflation and failure scenarios to validate computer models.
Testing in the calm waters of the NBL is helping the team prepare for a late-summer complement of uprighting system tests in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Galveston, Texas.
Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft. Beginning with the launch of the first integrated mission of SLS and Orion (Exploration Mission-1), this new deep space exploration system will support missions of increasing complexity over multiple decades.