August 3, 2016 – Engineers and astronauts conducted testing in a representative model of the Orion spacecraft at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to gather the crew’s feedback on the design of the docking hatch and on post-landing equipment operations.
Astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Karen Nyberg and Rick Mastracchio evaluated the equipment used during egress to ensure that a fully suited crew member carrying survival equipment can get out of the Orion spacecraft through the docking hatch if necessary.
While the crew will primarily use the side hatch for entry and exit on Earth and the docking hatch to travel between Orion and a habitation module on long-duration deep space missions, the crew will need to be able to exit out of the docking hatch if wave heights in the Pacific Ocean upon splashdown are too high.
The testing is being done to help ensure all elements of Orion’s design are safe and effective for the crew to use on future missions on the journey to Mars and other deep space destinations.
The prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft is Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colorado. Orion is the only human-rated deep space vehicle and will be launched atop NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).