April 6, 2017 – Testing of systems critical to preparing Orion for its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket were successfully completed in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility (MPPF) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The MPPF is the location where fuel and commodities will be provided for the Orion spacecraft prior to launch. Orion also will be defueled and prepared for its next mission in this facility.
Engineers and technicians completed a series of verification and validation tests of the pneumatic systems inside and outside the facility and confirmed they are ready to become operational, and that the systems meet requirements to support flight and ground systems that use pneumatic commodities.
“Completion of verification and validation testing of the pneumatic systems helps ensure that ground systems at Kennedy are ready to support Orion spacecraft processing,” said Stephen Anthony, pneumatic design engineering lead in the Environmental and Life Support Systems branch in the center’s Engineering Directorate.
Four pneumatic systems supply high pressure gases to various locations in the MPPF. These include gaseous nitrogen, gaseous helium and gaseous oxygen. They will be used to pressurize flight tanks on the Orion spacecraft. Another system, the breathing air system, provides an air source for personnel using Self-Contained Atmospheric Protection Ensembles, or SCAPE suits, which protect them during hazardous operations inside and outside the facility.
Leak tests of all of the pneumatic hardware installed inside and outside the MPPF were performed. Checkouts included verifying proper function of valves, regulators, pressure gauges and other components; verifying that the systems can be operated by command and control software; and performing flow tests of the systems to validate analysis and demonstrate that the systems meet requirements. A simulation of Orion flight tank fill operations also was performed.
“The pneumatic systems at the MPPF provide high pressure gases to many other ground and flight systems, making them vital to successful ground processing operations,” Anthony said.
The vast majority of the testing was completed between August 2016 and January 2017. Additional testing is scheduled this spring.
A team of about 60 NASA and contractor workers supported the tests, including design, operations, systems and project engineers, mechanics, technicians, logistics, safety, quality, configuration management, and construction of facilities personnel.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Littleton, Colorado, leads the Orion industry team as the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft.