Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Orion passes static load tests

NASA's Orion crew module has successfully passed its static loads tests. Orion will sit atop the launch vehicle in NASA's Space Launch System program, designed to take astronauts further in space than ever before. Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., built a 20-foot-tall static loads test fixture for the crew module with hydraulic cylinders that slowly push or pull on the vehicle. The fixture produced 110 percent of the load caused by eight different types of stress Orion will experience during Exploration Flight Test-1 in September 2014. More than 1,600 strain gauges recorded how the vehicle responded. The loads ranged from as little as 14,000 pounds to as much as 240,000 pounds. Orion also was pressurized to simulate the effect of the vacuum in space, allowing engineers verify repairs made to superficial cracks in the vehicle's rear bulkhead caused by previous pressure testing in November. (Sources: SpaceTravel, 06/11/13, NASA, 06/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, builds Orion and the core stage of the Space Launch System; Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing engines for the SLS that will carry Orion into space.