August 20, 2015 – Inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, workers are preparing the Orion spacecraft that flew on Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) for transport to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Denver, Colorado.
Once in Denver, the spacecraft will undergo direct field acoustic testing. This is a technique used for acoustic testing of aerospace structures by subjecting them to sound waves created by an array of acoustic drivers. For the test, several electro-dynamic speakers will be arranged around Orion to provide a uniform, well-controlled, direct sound field test at the surface of the spacecraft.
Orion launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on EFT-1 on December 5, 2014. After a two-orbit, 4.5 hour mission, Orion splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and was retrieved by NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy. The spacecraft was secured in the well deck of the USS Anchorage and brought to Naval Base San Diego, where it was offloaded, secured in a container and transported back to Kennedy for analysis.
Since that time, engineers and technicians have analyzed the data from the flight test, as well as the capsule, in order to develop and build a better spacecraft for future exploration. Orion’s flight test yielded millions of elements of data, every piece of which is providing unique insight into how to improve the spacecraft’s design so that it can safely send astronauts on their way to Mars and return them home.
Orion will next launch atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). The EM-1 mission will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon and bring it back to Earth to demonstrate the integrated system performance of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.
Colorado-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems leads the Orion industry team as the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft.