Spacecraft will take astronauts back to the moon

NASA's Orion capsule shipped to Florida for final assembly

Staff report
Posted 8/31/18

A spacecraft capsule that will return astronauts to the moon has been completed and shipped to Florida for final assembly into a full spacecraft, according to a news release from Lockheed Martin. The …

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Spacecraft will take astronauts back to the moon

NASA's Orion capsule shipped to Florida for final assembly

Posted

A spacecraft capsule that will return astronauts to the moon has been completed and shipped to Florida for final assembly into a full spacecraft, according to a news release from Lockheed Martin.

The pressure vessel for NASA’s Orion Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) spacecraft was welded together over seven months by Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans.

Orion is the world’s only exploration-class spaceship, and the EM-2 mission will be its first flight with astronauts on board, taking them farther into the solar system than ever before, the release said.

“It’s great to see the EM-2 capsule arrive just as we are completing the final assembly of the EM-1 crew module,” Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin vice president and program manager for Orion, said in the release. “We’ve learned a lot building the previous pressure vessels and spacecraft and the EM-2 spacecraft will be the most capable, cost-effective and efficient one we’ve built.”

Orion’s pressure vessel is made from seven large, machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together to produce a strong, light-weight, air-tight capsule. It was designed specifically to withstand the harsh and demanding environment of deep space travel while keeping the crew safe and productive.

“We’re all taking extra care with this build and assembly, knowing that this spaceship is going to take astronauts back to the moon for the first time in four decades,” Matt Wallo, senior manager of Lockheed Martin Orion Production at Michoud, said in the release. “It’s amazing to think that, one day soon, the crew will watch the sun rise over the lunar horizon through the windows of this pressure vessel. We’re all humbled and proud to be doing our part for the future of exploration.”

The capsule was shipped over the road from New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center, arriving Aug. 24. Now in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, Lockheed Martin technicians will immediately start assembly and integration on the EM-2 crew module.

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company based in Bethesda, Maryland, with a number of Colorado locations, including offices in Denver, Littleton, Englewood and Boulder.

Lockheed Martin also recently sent the U.S. Air Force’s first GBS III space vehicle to Cape Canaveral for its expected launch in December, a Lockheed Martin news release said. Designed and built at Lockheed Martin’s GPS III Processing Facility near Denver, the satellite was shipped Aug. 20 from Buckley Air Force Base to the Cape on a massive Air Force C-17 aircraft.

GPS III will be the most powerful and resilient GPS satellite ever put on orbit, the release said. Developed with a new design for U.S. and allied forces, it will have three times greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities over the previous GPS II satellite design block, which makes up today’s GPS constellation.

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