April 17, 2016 – Honeybee Robotics has begun development of the Side Hatch Gearbox Assembly for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Spacecraft Crew Module. Following completion of its initial design of the subsystem, Honeybee will fabricate, test, certify, and deliver two units, one to serve as the Engineering Development Unit and a second to be installed onto the Side Hatch Flight Unit for the EM-1 flight.
The Side Hatch is the primary ingress/egress port for the crew and ground support personnel to the Orion Spacecraft Crew Module. The Side Hatch is actuated manually, and can be opened or secured closed from both inside and outside the vehicle. The main function of the gearbox assembly is to provide mechanical advantage from either inside the vehicle (via the Internal Latch Actuation Handle) or from the exterior of the vehicle (via the External Latch Actuation Mechanism) and convert it to the necessary output force to engage or disengage the latching mechanisms.
“We are excited to be contributing to the new Orion vehicle, which represents NASA’s commitment to human deep space exploration,” said Kiel Davis, President of Honeybee Robotics. “Honeybee has built expertise in spacecraft mechanisms design and development over the past 30 years, and we are excited to apply our capabilities to a critical mechanism of the Spacecraft Crew Module.”
The Orion spacecraft is designed to meet the evolving needs of NASA’s deep space exploration program for decades to come. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
Honeybee Robotics has a history of providing mission-critical space mechanisms and subsystems. The company has contributed systems to the Mars Exploration Rovers, Phoenix Mars Lander, and Mars Science Laboratory, as well as numerous scientific and commercial spacecraft.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colorado is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.