|Technicians start building Orion. NASA photo|
NEW ORLEANS – Construction has officially begun on the spaceship that will return astronauts to the Moon and beyond. Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans welded the first two components of the Orion crew module capsule for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), the first Orion flight with astronauts on board. This flight will be launched atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. EM-1, which will be used for an uncrewed mission, was assembled at Michoud and is now in Florida at Kennedy Space Center for final work. The main structure of the crew module, or pressure vessel, is comprised of seven large machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together. The first weld joined the forward bulkhead with the tunnel section to create the top of the spacecraft. The pressure vessel capsule will continue to be built out over the spring and summer in Michoud incorporating the three cone panels, the large barrel and the aft bulkhead. Once completed in September, it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center where the Lockheed Martin team will perform assembly and test of the EM-2 spacecraft. (Source: PRNewswire
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