NASA: First Orion Crew Module is “Complete”

Image Credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak has the following “story” regarding the Orion spacecraft. It is difficult to decide what to make of the headline, just as it is for the entire SLS/Orion program as a whole. Depending on your perspective, the claim that “Orion’s First Crew Module Complete” could be considered to be perfectly accurate within the limited context of the article, or more than a little misleading and tailor made for pickup and recycling by innumerable website which are not about to place it into context.

While the capsule pictured above and described in the NASA story below is indeed complete and well on its way to a December test flight aboard a ULA Delta Heavy,  it is a long, long way from being a complete crew capsule, lacking among other things a service module and a life support system.  In fact one of the major concerns regarding NASA’s current test and flight plan for SLS/Orion is the fact that the life support system (ECLSS) still will not be ready before the Orion’s first flight (EM-1) aboard SLS, which now appears likely to be sometime in 2019.

As a result, the first crewed flight, (EM-2), nominally scheduled for 2021 may in fact be the first to feature a fully functional, or “complete” Orion.

Here’s the NASA item:

Orion’s First Crew Module Complete

NASA’s first completed Orion crew module sits atop its service module at the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew and service module will be transferred together on Wednesday to another facility for fueling, before moving again for the installation of the launch abort system. At that point, the spacecraft will be complete and ready to stack on top of the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry it into space on its first flight in December. For that flight, Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will travel 3,600 miles above the Earth – farther than any spacecraft built to carry people has traveled in more than 40 years – and return home at speeds of 20,000 miles per hour, while enduring temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


Posted in: NASA, SLS / Orion

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